BREAKING NEWS: Guardiola among final three nominees for best coach award

Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Vicente del Bosque have been named as the final three nominees for the Fifa Coach of the Year award.

The former Barcelona skipper left his post in charge of the Blaugrana at the end of last season, having sealed the Copa del Rey with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the final.

Meanwhile, Mourinho enjoyed a fantastic year, guiding Real Madrid to the Liga title at the expense of the Catalans, setting a record points total in the process.

Finally, Del Bosque led Spain to the Euro 2012 title, their consecutive major championship, a feat that had never been achieved by any international side before.

Mourinho scooped the inaugural award in 2010 thanks to his treble win with Inter, while Guardiola sealed it a year later after winning a Liga and Champions League double with Barca.

The winners of all of the awards will be revealed at the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 7 January 2013.

Messi, Ronaldo & Iniesta nominated for 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or

Fifa and France Football have announced that Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo are the remaining three candidates in the running for the 2012 Fifa Ballon d’Or.

The Argentine has netted an impressive 82 goals since January, and needs only three more in 2012 to equal Gerd Muller’s record of 85 strikes for club and country in a calendar year.

Messi helped Barcelona to the Copa del Rey in 2011-12, while also guiding Argentina to top spot in their 2014 World Cup qualification section.

Ronaldo played a key role in Real Madrid’s Liga triumph last term with his 46 league goals, and also made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 with Portugal.

Iniesta, meanwhile, triumphed with Spain at last summer’s European Championship, as well as winning the Copa del Rey with the Blaugrana.

Messi previously won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, while also picking up the prestigious trophy in 2010 and 2011 after it merged with the Fifa World Player of the Year award.

Ronaldo emerged victorious in 2008, but had to settle for second spot in 2009 and 2011. Iniesta finished as runner-up in 2010.

Vicente Del Bosque, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have been nominated for the Coach of the Year prize.

Radamel Falcao, Neymar and Miroslav Stoch are the three candidates in the running to win the Puskas award for goal of the season, while Marta, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are in contention for the Women’s Player of the Year title.

Bruno Bini, Norio Sasaki and Pia Sundhage are the trio up for the Coach of the Year trophy in women’s football.

The winners of all of the awards will be revealed at the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 7 January 2013.

Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo & Iniesta nominated for 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or

Fifa and France Football have announced that Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo are the remaining three candidates in the running for the 2012 Fifa Ballon d’Or.

The Argentine has netted an impressive 82 goals since January, and needs only three more in 2012 to equal Gerd Muller’s record of 85 strikes for club and country in a calendar year.

Messi helped Barcelona to the Copa del Rey in 2011-12, while also guiding Argentina to top spot in their 2014 World Cup qualification section.

Ronaldo played a key role in Real Madrid’s Liga triumph last term with his 46 league goals, and also made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 with Portugal.

Iniesta, meanwhile, triumphed with Spain at last summer’s European Championship, as well as winning the Copa del Rey with the Blaugrana.

Messi previously won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, while also picking up the prestigious trophy in 2010 and 2011 after it merged with the Fifa World Player of the Year award.

Ronaldo emerged victorious in 2008, but had to settle for second spot in 2009 and 2011. Iniesta finished as runner-up in 2010.

Vicente Del Bosque, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have been nominated for the Coach of the Year prize.

Radamel Falcao, Neymar and Miroslav Stoch are the three candidates in the running to win the Puskas award for goal of the season, while Marta, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan are in contention for the Women’s Player of the Year title.

Bruno Bini, Norio Sasaki and Pia Sundhage are the trio up for the Coach of the Year trophy in women’s football.

The winners of all of the awards will be revealed at the Fifa Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 7 January 2013.

JD's Betting Blog: A huge weekend of European matches to look forward to

We had another profitable week on the football markets with four out of six selections landing. Some missed chances for Lazio against Tottenham Hotspur and a missed penalty from Levante against Barcelona denied us from landing a full house. It was a solid week overall and we are confident of the same this week.

The lack of goals across Europe

A lack of team goals in La Liga and the English Premier League made it one of the toughest weekends of the season so far. The champions of Spain, England and Italy all failed to score a goal between them last weekend.    

Ten of the 20 La Liga teams did not manage a goal and eight Premier League teams left their scoring boots behind.

Punters are more inclined to back goals in their betting strategy so when they dry up, it can have an adverse effect on your betting bank. Personally, I think last weekend was just an abnormality and I expect goals to return in the weeks ahead.

A weekend of huge games

Looking ahead to the weekend, there are some tasty matches in Spain and Germany.

In Spain, we have the Madrid derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone’s team will face the biggest examination of their title credentials to date in what has the potential to be a real thriller.

Bet365 have Real Madrid as strong favourites at 4/9 (1.44) with Atletico Madrid 11/1 (12.0) outsiders while the draw is a 7/2 (4.5) shot. It is the first time since 1999 that Real Madrid go into this fixture behind their neighbours in the table.  

Weekend tips

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich host Borussia Dortmund in perhaps the game of the weekend in Europe. The Bavarians have been in outstanding form domestically and are 3/4 (1.75) to win this match.  

I like the angle of Bayern Munich to score in both halves at 5/4 (2.25) with bet365 in what is likely to be a high-scoring contest. In England, Reading’s clash with Manchester United is likely to produce a match with both teams scoring.

The Red Devils defence has been leaky all season and the home side are capable of finding the net – both teams to score looks to be a well priced 4/5 (1.80) shot with bet365.

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Falcao: We want to fight for the title and finish above Real Madrid

EXCLUSIVE
By Martin Langer

Radamel Falcao has stoked the fires ahead of this weekend’s Madrid derby as he aims to further upset the reigning La Liga champion’s title defence and continue his imperious form for Atletico.

The 26-year-old has already scored 14 times for Diego Simeone’s team, leaving them second in La Liga, just three points behind Barcelona and eight ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

With a third of the season complete, Atletico have managed to upset the balance, something Falcao hopes can be maintained to the end of the campaign.

“To finish above our main opponent [Real Madrid] would be quite significant for everyone,” he told Goal.com. “Our fans would be delighted if we managed to do so this season. However, as players we don’t have this as our target. We want to top La Liga but we don’t look at Real Madrid or ourselves, we just think about the next game.

“It’s my dream to have a good campaign. A positive start is important to keep our level throughout the season and to fight for the top spots in the table. My dream for this season was for Atletico to be stronger and more solid in order to achieve consistent good results.

“We are just three points from the top of the table, fighting and trying to hold on to a Champions League spot. We want to keep this place in the table. We’ll try to remain where we are so if one of the big teams slips up we can profit. After that we will see if we can fight for the title, second or third place. We want to remain where we are now.”

As such, Falcao was quick to play down the importance of the Madrid derby, suggesting the whole campaign should be a barometer for their success, adding: “Theoretically our fight is not against Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“Our task is to think about the next fixture and try to win. Winning allows us to pick up points and remain close to the major teams in Spain. We must collect as many points as possible. Then the games back to back with Real Madrid and Barcelona could define our season in La Liga.

“It’s important to win every game aside from the Barcelona and Real Madrid games because there are many points at stake. If you don’t win those games you’ll drop points and lose touch with the top sides in the table.”

After winning the Europa League last season – Falcao’s second consecutive victory in that competition – and adding the European Super Cup in August, he is determined to add more silverware to his ever expanding cabinet. And with Simeone at the helm, the striker believes it is a realistic aim.

“Since Diego Pablo Simeone’s arrival there has been a change in the mentality,” he explained. “The club is also making an effort to be more competitive and assertive in domestic competitions. I hope this change pays dividends in a short term.

“The team would love to win trophies. We would like to win at least one of the competitions we’re playing in. We’re working hard to hit this target and I hope at the end of the season we can celebrate a title.”

Falcao made his professional debut as a 13-year-old in Colombia before embarking on a career that has seen him plunder goals in Argentina, Portugal and Spain.

Now in the Spanish capital, his latest achievement, though minor, was breaking a rare goalscoring drought as he tucked home a penalty in a 4-0 rout of Sevilla this past weekend.

And asked who he admired as a young professional, Falcao pointed to a former Real Madrid superstar.

“That player would be the Brazilian Ronaldo,” he told stated. “I admired many players from that era, but Ronaldo Luiz embodied the kind of striker I wanted to be.

“Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta and these kind of players. My taste wouldn’t change if I weren’t a professional player.”

Falcao also explained that working alongside Chile’s Marcelo Salas helped him grow following his move to Argentina as a teenager.

He added: “We both played for River Plate at the same time. For him it was the end of his career, but you could tell how different he was. You could easily notice his quality as a striker. He shone over all of us.”

Now is your chance to meet Falcao and see the Colombian superstar play live! All you need to do is click HERE, pick your three favourite Falcao goals out of the 10 and if your choices match up with the striker’s, you will be in with a chance to meet the Atletico forward as well as seeing him play against Deportivo La Coruna on December 9.

Radamel Falcao was speaking as an ambassador of Western Union’s PASS scheme which will run for three years with a goal of raising a million school days for children whose schooling has otherwise been compromised.