Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player of Europe following the Champions League draw ceremony on Thursday. European football’s governing body whittled a shortlist of 10 down to Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann. Ronaldo, who won after the 2013-14 season, joined Barcelona star Lionel Messi as the second player to win the award twice. Ronaldo captained Portugal to glory at Euro 2016, when he was taken off injured during the final, and scored the winning shootout penalty for Real Madrid as they won the Champions League for an 11th time. “Of course, I feel happy because it was an unbelievable season,” Ronaldo said. “But it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention these two amazing players [Bale and Griezmann]. Griezmann, I am sorry for your loss to Portugal in the final, but you are an amazing player. It was an unbelievable season.”
There was a story last week where the keeper for Swedish club Ostersunds was attacked in the final minute of a game by a fan who ran on the pitch. The match against Jonkoping Sodra was abandoned at 1-1. Well, the Sweden FA has awarded Ostersunds a 3-0 win. “The disciplinary committee’s majority believes that the supporter who attacked the Ostersund goalkeeper should be considered a Jonkoping supporter, and for that reason Jonkoping are responsible for what happened and lose the match,” the FA said. Jonkoping director Kjell Lundgren said the club would probably appeal against the decision.
Barcelona have signed Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen for £11.1m to replace Manchester City-bound Claudio Bravo. Netherlands international Cillessen, 27, has signed a five-year deal with the Spanish champions, who could pay another £1.7m in variables. He started his career with NEC Breda before joining Ajax in 2011. Cillessen’s move was confirmed hours before Chile international Bravo, 33, joined Pep Guardiola at City for an initial £15.4m.
Manchester City have signed goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Barcelona for 18m euros. The fee for the 33-year-old Chile international could rise with £1.7m of add-ons, say the Spanish club. Bravo, who has signed a four-year contract, is expected to start ahead of England goalkeeper Joe Hart and Argentine Willy Caballero. Bravo said: “I’m very proud to be joining Manchester City. “I know the club is building something very special and I hope I can be part of many successes in the coming years.” Bravo joined Barcelona in 2014 and won two La Liga titles and the FIFA Club World Cup. He was also part of the Champions League-winning squad in 2015, but never played in the competition for Barca. “It is not easy to leave a club like Barcelona where I had two fantastic years, but the opportunity to work with Pep Guardiola was too good to refuse,” he added. Guardiola, who became City manager in the summer, said: “Claudio is a fantastic goalkeeper and an excellent addition to our squad. “He has experience and great leadership qualities and is in the prime of his life. He is a goalkeeper I have admired for a number of years and I’m really happy he is now a City player.” Guardiola has signed Bravo as he has major reservations about Hart’s ability to play as the kind of ‘sweeper-keeper’ his preferred system demands.
Roger Federer is aiming to be fit for next year’s Australian Open after injury wiped out the last half of his 2016 season. Federer, 35, has been out of action since late July – his last match was a Wimbledon semi-final loss to Milos Raonic. The 17-time Grand Slam winner had surgery in February before a back issue ruled him out of the French Open. “I’m working for the Australian Open,” the Swiss said. “I’m doing well.”
The Champions League group-stage is this evening. It’s set to begin at 5pm Nigerian time. The following are the Pots for the draw:
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Leicester City, Bayern Mnich, Juventus, Benfica, Paris St-Germain and CSKA Moscow
Pot 2: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Manchester City, Sevilla, Porto, Napoli and Bayer Leverkusen
Pot 3: Basel, Tottenham, Dynamo Kiev, Lyon, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Club Brugge and Monchengladbach
Pot 4: Celtic, Monaco, Besiktas, Legia Warsaw, Dinamo Zagreb, Ludogorets Razgrad, Kobenhavn and Rostov
Pot one are teams that won their domestic title. And the other pots are arranged by UEFA coefficient ranking. No two clubs from the same country can be in the same group – and neither can clubs from Russia and Ukraine.
Leicester City’s England midfielder Danny Drinkwater has signed a new five-year deal with the Premier League champions. “I’ve loved playing for this Club, it’s been perfect for me and my career and I want to be here for a long time to come. I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I’ve grown a lot as a player and a person in the last four years and Leicester City has been a massive part of that. I owe a lot to the staff here for helping me get to this point – they’ve been quality.”
United States goalkeeper Hope Solo has been suspended for six months by US Soccer for describing Olympic opponents Sweden as “a bunch of cowards”. The 35-year-old was speaking after Sweden knocked her side out of Rio 2016 in the quarter-finals, winning 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said her comments were “unacceptable”. World Cup winner Solo, writing on her Facebook page, said she was “saddened” by the decision. “I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things,” she added. Solo will not be eligible for selection until February. In January 2015, she was suspended for 30 days following an incident during a training camp. Media reports claimed she was in the car when husband Jerramy Stevens was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Sweden lost 2-1 to Germany in the Olympic final.