With the finalists for The Best FIFA Football Awards™ 2020 announced on last Thursday, FIFA.com checked in to see how they marked their nominations on the field ahead of the ceremony in Zurich on 17 December.
Lyon, nine reasons to celebrate
Four days after winning 3-2 away to Juventus in the UEFA Women's Champions League, Lyon returned to domestic duty with a home league fixture against Issy. Despite the absence of Wendie Renard, finalist for The Best FIFA Women’s Player, Les Fenottes were typically ruthless in a 9-0 rout. A finalist in The Best FIFA Women’s Goalkeeper category, Sarah Bouhaddi performed well on the few occasions she was called into action.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc Vasseur, one of the three finalists for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach, told FIFA.com a few hours prior to the announcement, that his side “had to find alternatives” to compensate for the absence of some of their top players. With Ada Hegerberg still not back from injury, Vasseur tasked Nikita Parris with leading the line, and she duly delivered with a four-goal return against Issy. Also without his first-choice defensive pairing of Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy, the coach opted for Kadeisha Buchanan and Saki Kumagai, who proved equally solid in front of Bouhaddi.
That win put Lyon back on top of Ligue 1, though only for 24 hours, after Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 win over Le Harve. Fellow Best Goalkeeper finalist Christiane Endler had a quiet afternoon as PSG became ‘autumn champions’ by a point from OL.
Meanwhile in England, Emma Hayes' Chelsea side saw off Brighton and Hove Albion (1-0), three days after a comfortable Champions League win away to Benfica (5-0). Denmark's Pernille Harder, a first-time finalist in the The Best FIFA Women’s Player category, provided the assist for Sam Kerr’s winner on Sunday. The Blues, who are second only to Manchester United in the English Women's Super League, have now gone 29 games unbeaten. As for Lucy Bronze's Manchester City, they claimed a crucial win against Arsenal to move within one point off their opponents.
Bayern saved by their finalists
In the men's game, Marcelo Bielsa, nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach, was unable to celebrate his presence among the three finalists. The Argentinian saw his Leeds United side succumb 2-1 to West Ham United at home for a second consecutive league defeat. The newly-promoted side currently occupy 14th spot in the Premier League, albeit with a comfortable margin on the relegation places.
Also contending with Bielsa for the coach of the year award is Jurgen Klopp. The German’s Liverpool side are in a much more favourable position in the standings (2nd) but will have been disappointed not to take advantage of a draw this weekend by pacesetters Tottenham. The Reds, who had to settle for a draw of their own after a rough ride away to Fulham (1-1), had Alisson Becker, in contention for The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper award, to thank for several decisive interventions.
The final contender for the men's coach award, Hans-Dieter Flick, could only manage a point this weekend after a disappointing draw away to Union Berlin (1-1). Things might have been worse for the Bayern coach had two of his two players, also finalists at The Best FIFA Football Awards, not been on top of their game. Up front, Robert Lewandowski found the target yet again, netting his side’s equaliser. Following good work by Kingsley Coman down the left, the Pole was able to lose his marker and connect with the squared ball for his 13th goal of the season (in just ten games!).
At the opposite end of the pitch, Manuel Neuer was also decisive in ensuring his side left with a point thanks to a wonderful stop on his right side from Keita Endo followed by a double save to deny Marvin Friedrich the winning goal.
Jan Oblak, the third finalist in the men’s goalkeeping category, had a testing afternoon in the Atletico Madrid goal as they went down 2-0 to arch-rivals Real. And while decisive on several occasions and solid throughout, he could do nothing to prevent Casemiro’s header inside his left post for the opener. It was also the left post that Dani Carvajal struck before his shot rebounded onto Oblak’s back and into the net for the second. The two goals were only the third and fourth the Slovenian has conceded this season, but they were enough to end Los Colchoneros unbeaten La Liga run stretching back to February.
It was not a particularly fruitful weekend for one of the contenders for the FIFA Puskás Award. Uruguayan Luis Suarez had few opportunities to shine for Atleti in the derby loss and was substituted with 20 minutes to go. A few hours later, on the other side of the Atlantic, his compatriot and fellow nominee Giorgian De Arrascaeta was in action for Flamengo, who remain third in the table after their victory over Santos (4-1).
The third finalist, Korea Republic’s Son Heungmin, continued his fine recent form by providing another assist for Harry Kane to earn Tottenham a point away to Crystal Palace (1-1).
Ronaldo and Messi keep pace
In Italy, Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his 100th game for Juventus with two converted penalties, which secured victory and brought the Portuguese level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the top of the Serie A scoring chart on ten goals. The third finalist in The Best FIFA Men’s Player category, Lionel Messi, was also instrumental this weekend after firing in off the post on 76 minutes against Levante to earn a vital home win (1-0). It was the Argentinian's 600th goal for the Catalan club while wearing the famous No10 shirt.
All winners, including those of the FIFA Fan Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award, will be crowned on 17 December 2020 in a TV show broadcast live, starting at 19:00 CET.
Join the discussion about who should win this year’s awards by using the hashtag #TheBest.