Benzema, Courtois And De Bruyne Nominated For UEFA Award

Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring his team fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on May 11, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring his team fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on May 11, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne were on Friday shortlisted for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award.

The European body of European football said that a jury made up of journalists and representatives of clubs playing in European competitions voted for the trio from a list of 15.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was fourth on the ballot and just missed out.

The award will be presented on August 25 during the draw for the Champions League group stage.

Real won the Spanish Liga and the Champions League.

Benzema was named Champions League Player of the Season after scoring 15 goals in the competition, including three in Real’s semi-final victory over Manchester City.

When he scored Real’s second goal against Frankfurt on Wednesday in the European Supercup, Benzema became the club’s second-highest scorer in history with 324 goals, behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Courtois was spectacular as Real edged Liverpool 1-0 in the final and was named player of the match.

De Bruyne made the shortlist for the third straight year after inspiring City to the Premier League title.

Jorginho won the title last year after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the delayed Euro 2020 with Italy.

UEFA also announced the three nominees for coach of the year

They are Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, Man City’s Josep Guardiola, and the man they had to beat to win their biggest titles last season: Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp.

AFP

Champions League Win Would ‘Change Narrative’ Around City – De Bruyne

Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Manchester City and Real Madrid, at the Etihad Stadium, in Manchester, on April 26, 2022.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

 

Kevin De Bruyne says winning the Champions League would “change the narrative” around Manchester City as they prepare for the second leg of their semi-final against Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola goes into Wednesday’s match in Spain with a 4-3 lead after a thrilling first leg, seeking to reach the final for the second consecutive season.

City have been the dominant force in English football over the past decade but have never been crowned European champions despite the transformation of the club under their wealthy Abu Dhabi owners.

Belgium international De Bruyne said winning the trophy would “change the perspective from outside” Premier League leaders City, who lost last year’s final to Chelsea.

“As a player, you want to win the trophies and you want this one,” he said at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“I think the fact that we’ve been fighting for it for numerous years and been to the latter stages means we’ve been doing really well.”

The 30-year-old added: “Obviously, it’s a cup competition and the quality is very high so it’s very, very difficult to win it and there are different circumstances that happen.

“But if you look back at the way we have performed, or I have performed with the team for seven years, we’ve done really well. But obviously we haven’t won it and I think winning it would change that little narrative.”

Guardiola said his side would probably have to improve on their first-leg performance against the newly crowned Spanish champions to reach a likely final against Liverpool in Paris.

“At the same time I would like to tell you one thing — we could play much, much worse than we played and we could win, and not anyone can deny my assessment is right,” he said.

“So nobody knows, football is unpredictable. Sometimes you get something you don’t deserve, sometimes you don’t get something maybe you deserve, for the effort, for many things.”

Defender Kyle Walker could make a return at the Bernabeu against the 13-time European champions after missing the past five matches with an ankle injury.

Walker is back in training and Guardiola confirmed he would travel before a late decision is made but fellow defender John Stones remains sidelined.

Guardiola Desperate To Keep ‘Incredible’ De Bruyne Fit

City Must Win Every Game To Retain Title, Says Guardiola
Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola                                                    Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola is desperate to keep Kevin De Bruyne fit this season after the influential Belgian missed a chunk of last year because of injuries.

The attacking midfielder is among the City players in the running to succeed the departed Vincent Kompany as captain when the Premier League begins in three weeks.

The 28-year-old wore the armband and impressed in the English champions’ Asia Trophy final defeat on penalties to Wolves in Shanghai on Saturday.

It was a reminder of what De Bruyne in full flight is capable of, having missed half of last season with knee and hamstring problems.

“He’s top, last season we missed him a lot,” said Guardiola, after the friendly with Wolves ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, leading to penalties.

“We are stronger with him. Last season he had no holidays (because of the World Cup) but this time we have more time to rest.

READ ALSO: Wolves Beat City On Penalties To Win Asia Trophy

“We hope that we can keep him healthy, this is a guy who loves to play football and is a huge competitor.”

Guardiola, who backed by money from the Middle East has built one of the most formidable squads in the history of the Premier League, cautioned that De Bruyne needed to remain “calm”.

The Spaniard, who will be targeting Champions League glory this season to go with the English title, added: “He is a player who never loses confidence, even last season.

“We know his quality, he always has a good attitude, he is incredible.”

AFP

City Can Survive Without Injured De Bruyne – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts ahead of the UEFA Champions League second leg quarter-final football match between Manchester City and Liverpool, at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on April 10, 2018.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City can survive without Kevin De Bruyne after the inspirational Belgian playmaker was ruled out for up to six weeks due to a knee injury.

De Bruyne sustained ligament damage to his left knee in the closing stages of City’s League Cup victory over Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

It was just the second start this season for De Bruyne, who injured ligaments in his right knee during the first week of the campaign, forcing him to the sidelines for the next two months.

The latest problem will keep him out for “five to six” weeks but, while City boss Guardiola is upset about De Bruyne’s absence, he is confident that it will not prove too damaging to the Premier League leaders’ bid to win silverware.

“We are a stronger team with Kevin than without him. But we have to live without him and we have to be there when he comes back, that’s all we can do,” he told reporters on Friday.

“I was so sad. I didn’t see him after the game. The doctor said he was sad – today he was less sad and the next day he’ll be strong again.

“He’ll spend the time with his new boy and his family. Hopefully, after the international break, there’ll be two or three more games and after that, he’ll be back.

“By then hopefully we’ll be in the knockout stages of the Champions League when he comes back and up there in the Premier League.

“That will help us in the last part that he will be fresh in mind and body and help us reach our targets.”

Even though De Bruyne’s period of convalescence will include an international break, he is still facing the prospect of missing seven games for his club, including the Manchester derby and a trip to Chelsea.

And the question remains whether Guardiola might have been advised to take De Bruyne off before the 86th minute against Fulham, when he was injured in a collision with Tim Fosu-Mensah.

No Messi move 

“Football is football, it’s a dynamic game, a lot of contacts and it sometimes happens,” Guardiola said.

“This kind of injury is unlucky, I think he’s so strong and he’s recovered so well, the other was more dangerous than this one. He’ll recover well. We have an excellent department.

“I’m more concerned about when it’s muscular injuries, that’s more concern. When it’s a trauma he’s unlucky with that situation.”

Guardiola has also responded to reports in Spain linking City, once again, with a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

And, while City’s vast financial wealth would obviously mean such a transfer would be possible, Guardiola insists he will never attempt to sign the Argentine icon from his former club.

“I said many, many times since I came here when I left Barcelona, Bayern and now City, that never have I asked Lionel Messi to join Bayern Munich or here,” he said.

“I never went to both clubs and said I want this player. Never. I know how important he is to Barcelona.

“Myself I have never spoken, never made the first step – and I’d never do that. I’ve said one thousand times about that.”

Guardiola has also repeated his intention to persuade Spanish teenager Brahim Diaz to sign a new contract with City after he scored twice against Fulham, his first senior goals for the club.

Talks are ongoing with the 19-year-old who is understood to be concerned about the lack of first-team opportunities in City’s star-studded team.

“We want him. It’s a market and it’s what it is. We go to other clubs and buy players, we try to take care of them, we try to give them the best education and facilities and we try to do everything,” he said.

AFP

Bale, De Bruyne In First Ballon D’or Nominees

File photo of Ballon d’Or

 

Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne were among the first 10 nominees for the Ballon d’Or award announced on Monday.

Bale, who scored two goals in Real’s triumph in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool, joins his club teammate Karim Benzema among the first wave of 30 nominees for the year’s best player.

De Bruyne was nominated for helping his club win the Premier League and his country reach the World Cup semi-finals.

The winner of the prestigious award organized by France Football magazine will be announced on December 3.

Having lost out in the FIFA best player of the year award to Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo takes his place among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or that were being unveiled in stages throughout Monday.

The Juventus forward, currently facing allegations of rape dating back to 2009 that he strenuously denies, has already won the Ballon d’Or five times and is the current holder of the award.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is nominated as is another prolific South American striker, Edinson Cavani of Uruguay and Paris Saint-Germain.

Two goalkeepers are also among the first 10 — Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid and Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker.

Liverpool’s Brazilian Roberto Firmino is also nominated and Uruguay’s rugged defender Diego Godin of Atletico Madrid also got the nod.

For the first time, a Ballon d’Or for women players will be awarded this year, with the nominees to be announced later Monday.

In another first, the best under-21 player will receive the Kopa Trophy. Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker who burst onto the global scene with his performances as France won the World Cup, is the favorite.

The Ballon d’Or, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided by a ballot of journalists from around the world.

First 10 nominees (of 30) for Ballon d’Or

Sergio Aguero

Alisson Becker

Gareth Bale

Karim Benzema

Edinson Cavani

Thibaut Courtois

Cristiano Ronaldo

Kevin De Bruyne

Roberto Firmino

Diego Godin

AFP

De Bruyne Rocket Fires City To Victory Over Shakhtar

 

Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (C) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the Group F football match between Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 26, 2017. Oli SCARFF / AFP

Kevin De Bruyne’s superb strike and a late Raheem Sterling goal maintained Manchester City’s impressive form in a 2-0 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

De Bruyne struck in the 49th minute with a magnificent 20-yard strike into the top right-hand corner of the Shakhtar goal after David Silva’s run had ended with the Spaniard teeing up the opening.

It was the Belgian’s first goal of City’s free-scoring season – a reflection of his new, deeper role under Pep Guardiola – but certainly a goal worth waiting for given its quality.

Although City striker Sergio Aguero failed with a penalty, Sterling’s 89th-minute finish from 12 yards, after a sprint and cross from fellow substitute Bernardo Silva, spared his team-mate’s blushes and wrapped up the points at Eastlands.

Aguero could have doubled the lead, and equalled City’s club record of 177 goals currently held by Eric Brook in the 1930s, after Leroy Sane was brought down by Ivan Ordets after 71 minutes.

But Aguero hit his spot kick too close to goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov who dived smartly to his right to keep out the effort.

A game which featured eight Brazilians – five of them from Shakhtar – and just three English players predictably provided plenty of entertainment and admirable football, even if goals were hard to come by.

Both sides had good opportunities to break the first half deadlock, Shakhtar’s best falling to the Brazilian Fred on 11 minutes as he appeared on the end of a flowing move to ghost clean through on goal, only for countryman Fernandinho to make a superb covering tackle.

There was also a firm strike from Marlos who forced City goalkeeper Ederson into the game’s first meaningful save as he dived sharply to his right.

– Breathtaking –

But most of the other promising moments came from the hosts, looking unstoppable in a recent five-game spell which had seen them score 22 goals.

De Bruyne, one of many of the crop of City stars in a rich vein of form, unexpectedly missed the target, shooting wide after a Gabriel Jesus pass had slipped him through.

And Sane first tested Pyatov with a low shot from the edge of the area then worked his way skilfully through a couple of unconvincing challenges before rolling a shot inches wide of the far upright.

As the half ended, it might have appeared that City’s record of never having experienced a goalless draw in the 37 Champions League group stage fixtures was under threat.

But it took just three minutes of the second half for De Bruyne to ensure the streak would continue, a development that opened up the contest even further.

Sane soon tested Pyatov with a darting run and near-post shot and it looked as if Aguero was destined to edge a goal closer the record, when Silva’s breathtaking chip forward offered up a volley which the Argentinian struck directly at the keeper.

There might have been more glory for De Bruyne, after another penetrating run down the left from Sane, but this time defender Ismaily managed to block his long-range effort.

De Bruyne almost turned provider after 69 minutes with an enterprising run down the right and perfect cross which substitute Sterling side-footed wide on the volley.

Aguero and Sane, twice, came close in the closing stages although the hosts also had to survive a strong penalty appeal from Shakhtar after the ball appeared to strike John Stones’ arm.

AFP