Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk have been nominated for the 2018/19 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award.
The winner will be named during the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on August 29. The UEFA Europa League Player of the Season will be announced the following day.
Barcelona magician Messi was the top goalscorer in the Champions League last season and the European Golden Shoe winner picked up his tenth Liga title.
Perennial rival Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus and helped the Bianconeri lift an eighth-straight Scudetto while he also guided Portugal to the inaugural UEFA Nations League title, during which he also finished top goalscorer at the finals.
Van Dijk led Liverpool to a sixth Champions League title and also featured in the Nations League final, where the Netherlands lost 1-0 to Ronaldo and Co.
The rest of the top 10 were: 4 Alisson Becker (Liverpool/Brazil) 57 points; 5 Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Senegal) 51 points; 6 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt) 49 points; 7 Eden Hazard (Chelsea/Real Madrid/Belgium) 38 points; 8= Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus/Netherlands) and Frenkie de Jong (Ajax/Barcelona/Netherlands) 27 points; 10 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City/England) 12 points.
For this award, players in Europe, irrespective of nationality, have been judged in regard to their performances over the whole season in all competitions – both domestically and internationally – at either club, or national team level.
The shortlist of three players was selected by a jury comprising the 80 coaches of the clubs that participated in the group stages of the 2018/19 Champions League and Europa League, along with 55 journalists selected by the European Sports Media (ESM) group, one from each of UEFA’s member associations.
Jury members chose their top three players, with the first receiving five points, the second three and the third one. Coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.
The other award shortlists include Goalkeeper of the Season: Alisson Becker, Hugo Lloris, Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Defender of the Season: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk; Midfielder of the Season: Frenkie de Jong, Christian Eriksen, Jordan Henderson; Forward of the Season: Sadio Mane, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo; Women’s Player of the Year: Lucy Bronze, Ada Hegerberg, Amandine Henry and Europa League Player of the Season: Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic.
Frank Lampard’s reign as Blues boss got off to the worst possible start on Sunday as a second-half capitulation resulted in an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Manchester United.
Chelsea had precious little time to dust themselves down before Wednesday’s Super Cup clash in Istanbul, where they drew 2-2 with Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League winners after extra-time and went to penalties.
Back-up goalkeeper Adrian denied substitute Abraham to seal the Reds’ 5-4 triumph in Turkey, but Pulisic struck an optimistic tone after the defeat and was confident the miss would have no long-term impact on the England Under-21 forward.
“It’s penalties, man – somebody has to miss,” Pulisic said.
“He’s going to get his head up. Obviously it’s tough but penalties are like that. He can deal with it and he’ll be fine.
“He’ll move on, he’ll score a goal in the next game and everything will be forgotten. We’re there for him.”
Pulisic felt it was the second game in a row where Chelsea’s performance had not been rewarded with the right result.
“It was harsh on us,” the United States international said.
“A few things just didn’t go our way, a few decisions and in the end, to lose on penalties, that’s just how it goes.
“But we can be really proud of how we played. I don’t feel that we had a fair result at Old Trafford either.
“We’ve been creating enough chances to win these games and we just have to keep going and keep fighting.”
Pulisic had a goal ruled out for offside after setting up Olivier Giroud’s opener, only for Sadio Mane to level shortly after half-time.
The Senegal international put Liverpool ahead early in extra-time, only for Jorginho to make it 2-2 after Adrian was adjudged to have brought down Abraham in the box.
The striker wasted a great chance to win the Super Cup before the match went to a shootout, where Adrian denied the 21-year-old’s decisive spot-kick.
There does appear to be a real togetherness being fostered by Lampard, whose belief in youth and understanding of the club’s values makes Pulisic confident that a first win is close.
“It’s been great working with him,” the ex-Borussia Dortmund star said.
“We’ve learned a lot so far and I think you can see the team forming. We have a lot of great players which makes it easier. We’re on a good path.
“I felt great.
“To be out there with these guys… they are easy to play with. I’m happy that I can get some more minutes in and move forward with this team.”
Liverpool’s love affair with Istanbul was furthered as they enjoyed another victorious European night at the venue on Wednesday despite Chelsea’s best efforts.
An enthralling Super Cup was decided 5-4 on penalties in favour of the Champions League winners after the tie was level at 2-2 with extra-time concluded.
Tammy Abraham was the only player to miss from the spot with Adrian saving the 10th penalty of the shootout.
Earlier, Olivier Giroud had opened the scoring via an excellent pass from Christian Pulisic in the first half but Sadio Mane drew Liverpool level early in the second.
The Senagalese then gave his side the lead in extra time but his effort was cancelled by a Jorginho penalty after Abraham was brought down, taking the tie to a shootout where the Europa League winners were second best.
Frank Lampard’s tactics at Old Trafford were very much gung-ho but that led to a 4-0 humiliation even if it wasn’t entirely deserved. With silverware on the line and the European champions to battle for it though, the former midfield star was quick to adopt a more pragmatic approach.
N’Golo Kante – who was a doubt through injury – replaced Mason Mount in midfield while Tammy Abraham was benched for the far more experienced Olivier Giroud. A midfield double pivot was replaced by a trio of Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic. The Frenchman provided drive and tenacity while the other two prioritised control – or at least as much as there was on offer.
Overall, the Blues were far more compact and paid Liverpool plenty of respect. Emerson Palmieri largely left the attacking down the left flank to Pulisic, choosing instead to pay close attention to Salah. But Chelsea were far from toothless in attack. In Pedro, Pulisic and Kante, they always threatened in the transition.
Ultimately, the Londoners have the right to feel aggrieved. They matched Liverpool and the result could easily have gone in their favour.
FIRMINO TRANSFORMS LIVERPOOL
If there was any doubt over Firmino’s value to Liverpool, the opening minutes of the second half should’ve dispelled it. Barring one effort from Salah, the Reds struggled to create chances from open play in the first half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked bright early on but drifted out of the game as Chelsea grew into proceedings.
The Englishman was replaced by Firmino at the break and suddenly Liverpool’s forward line had all-important focal point they craved. The transformation was instant as the Merseyside outfit began the second period on the front foot and the reward soon followed.
Firmino latched onto a clever dink over the top from Fabinho and had the awareness to square the ball away from the onrushing Kepa and into Mane’s path to sweep home on the second attempt. The Brazilian was then heavily involved in another couple of good chances soon after. He was a force in extra time as well and again played provider when he beat the offside trap and cut the ball back for Mane to score his second.
ALL ABOUT ADRIAN
It’s been some week for Adrian. The Spaniard was signed in the summer as mere back up for undisputed No1 Alisson Becker with Simon Mignolet returning to Belgium.
Alisson’s injury on the opening day of the Premier League season though handed Adrian a premature appearance for his new club and a few days later, he finds himself at the centre of a thrilling Super Cup victory, lifting his first piece of silverware.
The 32-year-old impressed during the encounter, denying Mateo Kovacic in the first half before saving well from Abraham. However, he also conceded a penalty in extra-time when he brought down the young forward, allowing Jorginho to level the tie.
That led to his crowning moment though. With nine penalties scored out of nine in the shootout, Adrian denied Abraham from the spot to secure the win for Liverpool.
The rest of his Liverpool career has a lot to live up to.