Ronaldo strong favourite to win Best FIFA Men's Player Award ahead of Messi and Neymar

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning exploits with Real Madrid make him the strong favourite to win the 2017 Best FIFA Men’s Player Award at Monday’s ceremony in London.

The Portuguese superstar, who won last year’s inaugural award, fired Madrid to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for the third time in four seasons.

He is nominated alongside his eternal rival Lionel Messi and Messi’s former Barcelona team-mate Neymar, now of Paris Saint-Germain.

“In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others,” Roma icon Francesco Totti told the FIFA website ahead of the ceremony at the London Palladium.

“He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams.”

Should Ronaldo prevail, it will pave the way for him to match Messi’s record of five Ballons d’Or when France football magazine announce the winner of that award early next year.

Ronaldo, 32, won the inaugural Best FIFA Men’s Player Award last year after a six-year merger between the FIFA honour and the Ballon d’Or.

Ronaldo previously won the FIFA World Player of the Year award, the precursor to the Best FIFA award, in 2008.

Messi, 30, scored 54 goals last season as Barcelona won the Copa del Rey.

The Argentina great has made a superb start to the current campaign, scoring 15 goals for Barcelona and earning his country a place at next year’s World Cup with a magical hat-trick against Ecuador.

“We all know who is the best player in the world,” says Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde.

“The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn’t something that worries me too much.”

Brazil star Neymar, 25, won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona last season before joining PSG in a blockbuster 222 million euros ($262 million) deal that obliterated the world transfer record.

The voting for the award, equally weighted between national team captains, national team coaches, media and fans, closed last month.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named Best FIFA Men’s Coach after becoming the first man to mastermind a successful defence of the European Cup in the Champions League era.

The former France playmaker is up against Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“To be sincere, if they give me it, I’ll take it with pleasure,” Zidane said.

“But if the question is, ‘Am I the best coach in the world?’ No, and I’m sure of it.”

Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is shortlisted for the Best FIFA Goalkeeper prize alongside Ronaldo’s Madrid team-mate Keylor Navas and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

The shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Player award comprises Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens.

The winner of the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2017 will also be announced.

The favourites are Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud’s ‘scorpion kick’ volley against Crystal Palace and South African goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke’s remarkable overhead bicycle kick for Baroka against Orlando Pirates.

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Sergio Aguero equals club goal record - Deadly stats from Man City's win over Burnley

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Sergio Aguero equalled Manchester City‘s all-time goal-scoring record as the Premier League leaders wore down Burnley to secure a 3-0 victory on Saturday.

City had to work hard for openings, but made the game safe with two quick goals inside the final 20 minutes from Nicolas Otamendi and Leroy Sane.

Pep Guardiola’s side are five points clear at the top of the Premier League, while their run of 11 successive wins in all competitions equals a club record.

Here are seven deadly stats from the game…

AGUERO EQUALS CITY GOAL RECORD

Sergio Aguero has moved level with Eric Brook as Manchester City’s leading goalscorer after netting against Burnley from the penalty spot.

The Argentinian has now scored 177 goals for City, matching the feat of Brook – who played for the club between 1928 and 1939.

…AND REACHES DOUBLE FIGURES FOR GOALS & ASSISTS

The Argentine is also the first player in the Premier League this season to reach double figures for goals and assists – four weeks after breaking his rib in a car accident in Amsterdam.

MAGICAL DE BRUYNE

The Belgian international has been in scintillating form in the first two months of the season and delivered another masterful performance against Burnley.

Receiving possession ten yards inside the Clarets half, he slipped a cleverly weighted ball behind the Burnley defensive line for Leory Sane to run on to and convert to seal victory.

He has now been directly involved in 19 goals in 19 games.

SANE SHOWS HIS CLASS

The German is another who has been in electric form, scoring and assisting in three of his last four Premier League appearances.

At 20, the attacker is slowly showing signs of his incredible talents as he cut through the Burnley defence with ease in the second half.

OTAMENDI STEPS UP

The Argentine defender stepped up to deliver a totemic display, with 98 completed passes and 100% aerial duels won.

He also weighed in with a goal, rising above two defenders to nod home Sane’s cross with 17 minutes remaining.

MAN CITY UNBEATEN IN 11 GAMES

Pep Guardiola’s side continue to show their remarkable early season form with 11 straight wins across all competitions.

MAN CITY 11 GAMES IN A ROW

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Predictions: Spurs and Liverpool stalemate while Napoli will edge Inter in a thriller

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After a thrilling round of European fixtures in midweek, it’s back to the domestic action with some mouth-watering clashes set for the weekend.

There are big games across all five of the major European leagues, so we’ve picked the best and offered our predictions.

LIGUE 1

Marseille v PSG

Le Classique has lost some of its shine ever since PSG become Ligue 1’s dominant force, and Marseille are currently in the midst of a 14-match winless run in the fixture.

On the positive side, Marseille go into this edition in fourth place and only eight points behind PSG.

The Parisians warmed up for the match by beating Anderlecht 4-0 in the Champions League, with the front three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani all getting on the scoresheet.

Kick-off

Sunday, 11PM (GST)

Prediction

1-4

Rudi Garcia v Unai Emery

Rudi Garcia v Unai Emery

PREMIER LEAGUE

Spurs v Liverpool

Spurs got their first league home win of the season last week and then travelled to the Santiago Bernabeu and went toe-to-toe with the European champions, coming away with a creditable draw.

If that was a huge boost of confidence, Liverpool got an even bigger one, thumping Slovenian side Maribor 7-0 in the Champions League.

Spurs and Liverpool have played each other even in recent years, and there’s little to separate them again.

Kick-off

Sunday, 7PM (GST)

Prediction

1-1

1020 Spurs v Liverpool

Mauricio Pochettino v Jurgen Klopp

BUNDESLIGA

Hamburg v Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have a new lease of life under Jupp Heynckes, beating Freiburg 5-0 last time out in the league and then following that up with a 3-0 win over Celtic in the Champions League.

That’s bad news for Hamburg, who are already in a relegation battle. A visit from the in-form champions is the last thing they need.

Kick-off

Saturday, 8:30PM (GST)

Prediction

0-4

Markus Gisdol v Jupp Heynckes

Markus Gisdol v Jupp Heynckes

SERIE A

Napoli v Inter

Napoli started off flat against Manchester City in midweek but their second-half display showed what they’re capable of, as they caused Pep Guardiola’s side serious discomfort. They were unlucky to not come away with a point.

The Serie A leaders host Inter having earned a tough away win last time out in the league, against Roma, while Inter are coming off a similarly fulfilling win, beating derby rivals AC Milan 3-2.

Dries Mertens has a point to prove after misfiring against City; expect him to set the record straight on Saturday.

Kick-off

Saturday, 10:45PM (GST)

Prediction

3-2

1022 Napoli vs Inter

Maurizio Sarri v Luciano Spalletti

LA LIGA

Valencia v Sevilla

Valencia are the surprise package in the league this year, seemingly putting behind the crisis years of the recent past. They are a thrilling team, full of goals, and they’re second in the league table at the moment, just four points behind Barcelona and a point ahead of Real Madrid.

Sevilla are two points behind Saturday’s opponents, but they will go into this fixture with their morale having been shaken by a shocking 5-1 loss to Spartak Moscow in midweek.

Current form would put Valencia as slight favourites for this one, and they could leave Sevilla reeling.

Kick-off

Saturday, 8:30PM (GST)

Prediction

3-1

Marcelino v Eduardo Berizzo

Marcelino v Eduardo Berizzo

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