FIFA announced this year’s eleven-man shortlist for the Best FIFA Football Coach award on Tuesday.
Here’s a closer look at the eleven nominees, in the order we think they will land on.
1. DIDIER DESCHAMPS
So what will it be with Deschamps? Molding France’s talented side into World Cup winners was a career-defining feat.
It should be enough to win the award – though he’s got some tough competition from a fellow Frenchman.
2. ZINEDINE ZIDANE
Which third matters more – Real Madrid’s disappointing and unexpected third-place finish in La Liga, or their third straight Champions League triumph, extending a run that was already record-setting when they made it two in a row a year ago?
It’s an easy answer. Winning in Europe and creating history in the process overshadowed everything else – and the way Zidane helped his side navigate a path to the trophy which saw Madrid overcome PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich, and Liverpool means he deserves the plaudits.
He’s the reigning award-holder, and it’ll be a tight race between him and his former national team captain Deschamps.
3. PEP GUARDIOLA
Pep Guardiola promises domestic domination. He’s done it with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and now with Manchester City.
The way his side utterly decimated just about everyone else in the Premier League was fearsome. Critics who were unsure if his signature style could work in England were left eating their words as City became the first side to record 100 points in a Premier League season, winning the title by a record 19 points.
It’s in Europe where Guardiola’s impressive resume falls short, and a quarter-final exit last season will hurt his chances of winning this award.
4. ERNESTO VALVERDE
Valverde would be at least one place further up had Barcelona not lost their penultimate league game. Guiding them to an unbeaten season, never before done in the 38-game La Liga era, would have vaulted Valverde into Barcelona’s pantheon of great managers.
Just a bog-standard, one-loss La Liga title then, coupled with a Champions League exit which came after leading the first leg of their quarter-final 4-1. That means he won’t earn any official accolades.
But he deserves credit for the way he turned the club around after it looked like they would be chasing Real Madrid’s shadow for years.
5. MAX ALLEGRI
A record-stretching seventh Serie A title is enough of an achievement in itself, but where Allegri earned his salt was the way he led his side to that triumph despite weathering losses in form to some of his key players. Not many teams can afford to drop Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro and look as effective as before.
And Juve’s continued defensive brilliance, after losing Leonardo Bonucci in the transfer window, was commendable as well. All of this while holding off the best title challengers Juve have faced during their record run.
Juve’s rough luck in Europe, however, will go against Allegri.
6. ZLATKO DALIC
Dalic was parachuted into the Croatia manager position before their last World Cup qualifier. From there, he’s become an instant hero after masterminding Croatia’s improbable run to the final.
His acumen was on display in the side’s stunning 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stages, ditching Croatia’s possession-heavy football and getting his players to soak up the pressure before picking Argentina off on the counter. Sustaining that momentum all the way through to the final was even more impressive.
Ultimately, because he was the losing finalist, he’ll end up being beaten to this award, but he deserves to be on the shortlist.
7. DIEGO SIMEONE
In a season which began with Atletico Madrid unsure whether Diego Simeone would even be at the club after it ended, winning the Europa League and briefly challenging a historically good Barcelona side for the La Liga title was quite the turnaround.
Simeone no doubt had a big part to play in convincing Antoine Griezmann to commit his future to the club as well, though that sort of thing usually doesn’t matter in awards like this.
Nonetheless, the Argentine showed once again why he’s considered one of the best in the business.
8. GARETH SOUTHGATE
Getting England to a semi-final at an international tournament is enough to win a lifetime achievement award, let alone one for just a single year. The way Southgate took a young side, instilled a philosophy which suited his players, and turned them into genuine contenders at the World Cup was a stunning feat.
Losing to Croatia in the semi-final cut short the ultimate dream, but it was still a magical tournament for Southgate, who’s being duly recognised even if he stands little chance of beating out the candidates mentioned above.
9. ROBERTO MARTINEZ
Roberto Martinez’s career has been a mixed bag. His incredible FA Cup triumph with Wigan in 2013 was tempered by their relegation a week later, and he followed up a season of progress for Everton with a poor second campaign.
His appointment as Belgium manager was a surprise. The fact that it was successful? Even more so.
People have been waiting for Belgium to perform like this for years. Getting the best out of the Golden Generation and leading them to third place at the World Cup was an immense achievement.
It’s not enough to win this award, but the nomination is deserved recognition.
10. JURGEN KLOPP
Klopp is being picked for the thrilling style of Liverpool’s play, and the sense he’s revitalised a proud club. His season ended with no trophies – although an unexpected run to the Champions League final is a definite achievement.
That, plus turning Mohamed Salah into one of the best players in the world, wins Klopp plaudits.
But his best results of the season – two wins against Guardiola’s City in the Champions League, and one in the Premier League – ultimately led to no tangible reward. That lack of success makes him a longshot to win.
11. STANISLAV CHERCHESOV
Russia were prepared for embarrassment at their home World Cup. For the lowest-ranked team at the tournament, in a group which contained Uruguay and Egypt, a battling third place was the height of fan expectations.
Instead, Cherchesov got the most out of a veteran squad and young talisman Aleksandr Golovin, and produced a side which thrilled the crowds – and that was before they stunned Spain in the Round of 16. Cherchesov’s tactics were pivotal in that upset.
Being named in the shortlist is just reward for his work at the World Cup, although he’s the least likely candidate to win the award.
England boss Gareth Southgate has been named on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men’s Coach 2018 award, while captain Harry Kane joins Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the battle for the player trophy.
The period covered July 3, 2017 to July 15 this year and the 10 nominees were selected by a panel of football experts.
Fans from around the world will now also be able to cast their vote until August 10, with the winners of all the categories announced at FIFA’s official awards ceremony in London on September 24.
Southgate’s side qualified for the 2018 World Cup with an unbeaten record before going on to reach the semi-finals, eventually finishing fourth in Russia.
Tottenham forward Kane won the Golden Boot with his six goals as England produced their best World Cup finish since 1990, coming on the back of the 30 he scored during the Premier League season.
Other Premier League players to be included are Belgium duo Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, of Manchester City and Chelsea, and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who enjoyed a superb club campaign as the Reds reached the Champions League final.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp join Southgate on the shortlist for the coach award.
Spaniard Guardiola masterminded City’s dominant Premier League campaign, while German Klopp won many plaudits for the approach of his side on their European run, which ended with defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev.
World Cup winner Didier Deschamps of France also makes the 10-man coach shortlist, along with Croatia’s Zlatko Dalic, whose side knocked England out before finishing runners-up in Russia.
Ronaldo collected the 2017 FIFA player accolade ahead of Messi, who went on to help Barcelona to a domestic double last season.
Neymar was third in the 2017 voting, but the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward, the world’s most expensive player, does not make the shortlist this year.
Portugal international Ronaldo scored 15 goals as Real won the Champions League for a third successive campaign and, following the World Cup, he joined Juventus in an unexpected £99million move.
France’s victorious World Cup team is well represented for the individual player award, with forwards Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann and defender Raphael Varane all included, as is Croatia captain Luka Modric, who won the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup.
OFFICIAL | The nominees for #TheBest FIFA Men’s Player 2018:— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) July 24, 2018
Kevin De Bruyne
For the period 3 July 2017-15 July 2018 pic.twitter.com/bqt8tDWY8d
The nominees for coach award also include Massimiliano Allegri, who led Juventus to a record seventh successive Serie A title, Russian coach Stanislav Cherchesov, whose team enjoyed an unexpected run to the quarter-finals as World Cup hosts, and Belgium’s Roberto Martinez, whose team finished third.
Completing the shortlist are Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona’s double winner Ernesto Valverde and Zinedine Zidane, who stepped down after taking Real to a third successive Champions League title.
The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2018 nominations include England’s Lucy Bronze, who won a league and European double during her maiden season in France with Lyon.
English coaches Emma Hayes and Mark Parsons have both been named on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach 2018 award.
Chelsea Ladies boss Hayes led the Blues to the Women’s Super League and FA Cup double last season, while Parsons guided Portland Thorns to the National Women’s Soccer League championship in the United States.
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France capped off a month of football fever as they defeated Croatia 4-2 to be crowned World Cup winners for the second time in the country’s history. The four weeks in Russia produced one of the best tournaments the game’s ever seen, with the introduction of VAR, a record number of penalties and huge upsets including Germany finishing bottom of group F. Didier Deschamps became only the third person ever to lift the World Cup as both a player and manager (joining Mario Zagallo, Franz Beckenbauer) as his France side brushed aside Croatia in a thrilling finale.
1. A Champion Performance in the biggest game of all from Paul Pogba.
How can a player struggle so badly throughout the last season to exert his dominance at one of the biggest clubs in the world, yet saunter to success with one of the biggest nations at the World Cup two months later?
His sublime talent has now been showcased on the global stage twice, here in Russia where he was one of the top performing midfielders overall, following on from his breakout tournament four years ago in Brazil where he took home the Best Young Player accolade.
He clearly has the taste for the spotlight – evidenced further by his outlandish hairstyles, celebratory dance routines and the ease with which he handles the glare of the public eye.
Yet, this belies his struggles on the domestic front as he strives to live up to the weighty £89 million price tag which was placed around his neck when Manchester United brought him back “home” from Juventus two summers ago.
Compatriot Kylian Mbappe usurped Pogba of his young player crown following France’s epic 4-2 triumph over Croatia on Sunday, while the teenage terror and Antoine Griezmann each netted four times over the course of the tournament.
N’Golo Kante mercilessly and tirelessly chased, harried and tackled opponents. Raphael Varane was a calm and commanding presence at the back, looking like the top-tier defender we’ve seen him struggle to aspire to be at Real Madrid.
However, Pogba outshone them all. His nine key passes were second highest for Les Bleus while only two players passed more (N’Golo Kante and Raphael Varane). Set up to catch and counter, Pogba’s 35 accurate long balls were the most from France’s midfield and an important characteristic of their play and added to that was his 22 tackles which was third most for his side.