As the group stage draws for the UEFA Champions League is to be announced next week in Monaco, the UEFA Men’s player of the year will be also be announced as well as the UEFA Women’s player of the year; but all eyes will be who wins the Men’s Award after an incredible year of football from all the teams who participated in the competition.
The three finalists for the award were announced on the official website of UEFA.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus and Lionel Messi of Barcelona were named and it’s clear Ronaldo is the overwhelming favorite to win.
He was a central, as usual to Real Madrid’s amazing season last term, winning the UCL with the Portuguese finishing as the highest goal scorer – 12 goals and also registering six assists.
Yet, despite Ronaldo’s impressive campaign, he may be in for a shock as Italy and Juventus captain, Gianluigi Buffon, might just be handed the crown.
Buffon also had a memorable campaign last season, helping Juventus reach the final of the UCL after securing a domestic double.
The popular saying of “Attack wins you games and defense wins you titles” has been mantra at Juventus and it is a philosophy that has earned the Old Lady major respect and reckoning.
Massimiliano Allegri led the team back to the UCL final; the second time the club reached that height three times in a decade.
Gianluigi Buffon and Juventus conceded the least amount of goals (7), four of which were conceded in the final against Real Madrid.
It is fair to say that the team let the 39-year-old down after he was able to help the team defensively, keeping 10 clean sheets.
Noteworthy, it appears Ronaldo is almost certain to claim the prize for the third time after winning it in 2014 and 2016, but the voting by almost 55 European journalists at the venue might not not be a straight shot.
Buffon’s influence on the Juventus team has been great with his wealth of experience and it will be tough for the journalists reach an easy decision.
The Italian Legend’s personal record has been mostly local, but has been rated the goalkeeper of the year four times, bested only by Spanish legend, Iker Casillas.
Buffon won the European goalkeeper award twice and has claimed the Serie A goalkeeper of the year award for a record seven times.
However we cannot leave out five time Ballon d’ Or winner, Lionel Messi who endured a disappointing campaign after Barcelona were knocked out of the competition by Juventus in the quarter-finals.
Despite his poor campaign, he scored 11 goals and managed jut two assists.
Lionel Messi would consider recognition in the final three as gratitude at the awards next week in Monaco.
With the awards to take place after the draws, it would be nice to see how the latter take place, with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea of England back in the UCL having missed out on the previous editions of the competition.
All this would be a buildup and a sort of a curtain raiser to the start of the annual UEFA Champions League as Real Madrid look to defend their title once more and make further history.