Ronaldo’s Golden Gong
There were no surprises for this year’s Ballon d’Or – quite literally after France Football (founders of the award)unwittingly leaked the result with images of the player holding the gong on the front page of their latest edition.
Vainqueur du Ballon d'Or, Crisiano Ronaldo est au Japon pour la CDM des Clubs et a déjà réalisé le shooting photo pour France Football. pic.twitter.com/ji4I6KQYrN— Vines Foot ⚽️ (@vinesfoot) December 12, 2016
Nonetheless there was no shock in the result.
Cristiano Ronaldo was named best footballer of 2016.
The 31-year old held off the challenge of his perennial Ballon d’Or rival Lionel Messi and Frenchman Antoine Griezmann to win his fourth award – one shy of Messi’s record.
Ronaldo’s latest win means between him and Messi the pair have won the last nine awards.
Ronaldo, who was absent from glitzy ceremony in Paris as he is on club duty in Japan, played a key role in helping Portugal win the European Championship in France this summer for a first time – they beat the tournament hosts in the final.
Although Real Madrid missed out on the La Liga title to Barca by just one point, the club dominated Europe.
Ronaldo was influential in helping Real secure a record-extending 11th Champions League title, and of course it was the Portuguese who scored the winning penalty against city rivals Atletico to win the trophy.
He scored 16 goals in last season’s competition – one goal shy of his own record-breaking tally.
He also netted a total of 51 goals during the season and became the first player in history to score more than 50 goals for 6 straight campaigns.
It’s a Knockout
The draw for the Champions League last 16 also took place on Monday in Nyon, Switzerland.
As usual it threw up some intriguing ties.
Defending champions Real Madrid have been drawn against Napoli.
Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid qualified second out of their group and although there were tougher opponents than Napoli in the bowl of group winners, the Serie A side will be no walkover.
Real will play the second leg away, meaning they will aim to wrap things up in the first leg in order to avoid a nail biter at Napoli’s intimidating Stadio San Paolo.
UCL last 16 dates— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 12, 2016
📅 15/02/17 (1st leg)
realmadriden</a> 🆚 <a href="https://twitter.com/sscnapoli">sscnapoli
📅 07/03/17 (2nd leg)
sscnapoli</a> 🆚 <a href="https://twitter.com/realmadriden">realmadriden
📍 San Paolo pic.twitter.com/SVMKuFBT0G
Five times champions Bayern Munich will take on Arsenal in their last 16 encounter.
The pair have met each other ten times, all since 2000.
Bayern have beaten Arsenal three times at this stage of the competition – a stage the Gunners haven’t progressed from for the past six straight seasons.
Paris Saint Germain will once again lock horns with five times European champs Barcelona.
The last time these two clubs met Barca beat PSG in the quarter-finals en route to winning the title during the 2014-15 season.
It will be the fourth meeting in the last five seasons between the pair.
PSG English (@PSG_English) December 12, 2016
Also – Porto take on Italian champions Juventus, last season’s losing finalists Atletico Madrid play Bayer Leverkusen while debutants Leicester City tackle Europa League winners Sevilla.
Manchester City face a tricky tie with Monaco who beat Tottenham twice in the group stage. Benfica take on Borussia Dortmund, who have won their last five fixtures against Portuguese opponents.