The Best FIFA Men’s Player
On the virtue of his two European triumphs last summer, Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favourite to win the inaugural edition of the The Best FIFA Men’s Player award in January next year. The Real Madrid forward set a Champions League record by scoring 11 goals in the group stage of the competition before putting two past Roma in the round of 16. He scored a hat-trick against Wolfsburg to put his team through to the semi-final before slotting the decisive penalty in the final against Atletico Madrid to win the European Cup.
He then captained the Portugal national team to a triumphant campaign at the 2016 European Championship. He scored a couple of decisive goals in the group game against Hungary to see his side progress through to the knockout stages as they went on to clinch their first major international honour.
Ronaldo’s closest rival for the top prize is likely to be Barcelona stalwart Lionel Messi but his lack of success at the Copa America is likely to count against him when the voters cast their ballots.
The Best FIFA Men’s Coach
These awards, in their previous avatars, tended to favour the managers who won something substantial at the international level. If the same trend is followed this year as well then it is very hard to see anyone else apart from Portugal national team boss Fernando Santos winning it.
Santos led his team admirably, having recognised the deficiencies of his side, the former Porto and Benfica manager focused on defensive solidity and counter-attacked the opposition to grab narrow wins. Ultimately, the final too was settled by a solitary goal that came from Eder.
He is likely to face competition from Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. Enrique led his side to a second successive domestic double as well as semi-final spot in the Champions League whereas Ranieri did the impossible by guiding a relegation-threatened Foxes to their first ever English league title to create history.
The Best FIFA Women’s Player
2016 was an Olympic year, and unlike men’s football which is an Under-23 tournament at the summer games, the women’s version is a contested between full national sides. The United States headed into the tournament as world champions and clear favourites to add the Olympic gold to their list of honours but a resilient Swedish side put paid to their plans and booted them out at the quarter-final stage.
Germany went on to claim the gold medal and their midfielder, Melanie Behringer, who grabbed five goals in the tournament and also won the German league with Bayern Munich is strong candidate to win the inaugural The Best FIFA Women’s Player honour.
The Best FIFA Women’s Coach
Silvia Neid is a two-time winner of the FIFA World Women’s Coach of the Year award – she won in 2010 and 2013. And now, having guided the German women’s national team to Olympic glory in Brazil, she is likely to win the newer avatar of the prestigious award next January.