December 8, 2013
Soccer — champions league drawFriday, August 30, 2013
Ribery wins Best Player in Europe award
Barcelona to face seven-time champion Milan in group
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for 2012/13 ahead of the usual contenders Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Barcelona and seven-time champion Milan were grouped together in the Champions League draw.
MONACO — Bayern Munich and France midfielder Franck Ribery won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for the 2012-2013 season yesterday, beating Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by a big margin.
Ribery earned 36 votes in the poll of journalists from across Europe — 23 more than four-time reigning world player of the year Messi. Real Madrid forward Ronaldo won three votes.
“It’s a very special moment to be standing here this evening,” Ribery said after receiving the award following the draw for the group stage of the Champions League in Monaco.
The 30-year-old Ribery was instrumental to Bayern Munich’s incredible season in which the team won the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup.
“This distinction rewards Franck for the magnificent season he had with his club and above all underlines his magnificent talent which allows him to be considered among the best players in the world,” French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet said. “Everyone in French football is very proud, and are with me in congratulating him.”
The three-man shortlist was selected by a panel of 53 journalists drawn from each of UEFA’s member nations. The same journalists then voted for the winner.
UEFA created the award after France Football magazine combined its traditional European accolade with FIFA’s world player prize. Messi won the inaugural prize in 2011 but was beaten by Barcelona teammate Andrés Iniesta last year.
It is the third consecutive year that Messi and Ronaldo have been on the shortlist.
Also, Barcelona will face seven-time winner AC Milan in the Champions League for the third straight season, while Bayern Munich begins the defence of its title in a group containing Manchester City.
Yesterday’s draw in Monaco put Barcelona in Group H with Milan, Ajax and Celtic — four teams who have been European champions 16 times between them.
Barcelona and Milan were grouped together in 2011-12 and then met in the quarterfinals, before facing each other in the round of 16 last season. Barcelona won three of the six encounters and drew two of them.
“You never get easy groups in the Champions League,” Barcelona forward Messi said. “Of course we know Milan well and we also played Celtic last season, while Ajax have a lot of European history. So we’re looking forward to some very tough, very exciting, very beautiful games.”
Celtic claimed a shock 2-1 victory over Barcelona in last year’s group stage.
“I think it’s the best and the worst draw we could have got,” Celtic coach Neil Lennon said. “In terms of glamour, it doesn’t come any better but it’s the most difficult we could have got.”
Bayern, which beat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in last year’s final at Wembley Stadium, is in Group D along with City, CSKA and Viktoria Plzen.
Dortmund is in one of the toughest groups of the tournament alongside Arsenal, Marseille and Napoli, and will be looking for revenge after finishing bottom of a group which included Arsenal and Marseille two years ago.
Real Madrid will face Juventus in another blockbuster pairing, with Galatasaray and Copenhagen joining them in Group B. Madrid is bidding for a record 10th title and lost to Dortmund in the semifinal last season, while Juventus, which lost to Bayern in the quarterfinals, has gone from strength to strength under Antonio Conte and won a second straight league title last campaign.
The first group games will take place on September 17 and 18.