The final whistle had blown at the Nou Camp in Barcelona and Atletico Madrid had just achieved the impossible – a singular feat that most believed was well beyond their reach at the start of the season. Proving their detractors wrong had become something of a habit for Los Rojiblancos over the course of the campaign, and the league triumph on the final day was no different. In a performance that typified the spirit they had shown throughout the season, Atleti overcame the loss of Diego Costa and Arda Turan, fighting back from a goal down and then keeping out Barcelona for a full forty-five minutes to win the point they needed to claim the title – breaking, in the process, the decade long duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, by far the biggest clubs in the country. As the players celebrated on the pitch amidst an ovation from a packed Camp Nou, a figure clad in black from head […]

Usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi make the Ballon d’Or three-man shortlist along with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Nadine Kessler (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA) were shortlisted for the women’s award. Germany coach Joachim Loew, Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone have been nominated for the Coach of the Year award. Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has made the Ballon d’Or shortlist and is the overwhelming favourite to win the award third time in his career. The Portuguese won it last year as well, beating current nominee Lionel Messi to claim it. Ronaldo helped Real Madrid achieve a successful season by lifting the Copa Del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. Ronaldo also broke two important Champions League records by scoring the highest number of goals in the group stage in a season with 9 and the highest number of goals in a single Champions League season with 17. The forward also shared the European […]

On Monday, January 9, ‘The’ individual award of football for the year 2011 will be presented to a player out of a final list that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi. The Balon D’or is chosen by a group of experts (Coaches, Captains and Journalists) from around the world and is generally accepted as the benchmark, as far as individual talent in a team sport such as football is concerned. Although there are mixed reactions among fans, and indeed certain players, that the Golden Ball is more dependent on popularity rather than accomplishments, the majority of fans acknowledge it as the answer to that eternal question forced on us by the beautiful game. That question that very few fans can resist asking themselves – “Who is the best?”. TheHardTackle takes a look at all three finalists, making a case for each one to be the recipient of the Ballon d’Or.   Cristiano Ronaldo If popularity was the scale by which the […]