Fantasy Five - Tips for your Fantasy Premier League team

The pace is about to pick up in the Premier League, with a grueling schedule ahead as the festive season approaches. That means there are two gameweeks ahead in the next seven days – a weekend one as normal and an extra one on Tuesday and Wednesday. With that in mind, here are five players to consider including in your FPL team for this big double header, brought to you by our friends at Armchair Fancast – the new weekly podcast discussing all the latest happenings from the Premier League! Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, and follow them on Twitter here!

  1. César Azpilicueta (CHE, £6.8): The champions have rediscovered their mojo in the past few weeks, winning their last four games and keeping a clean sheet in the last three. Azpilicueta has played every single minute of Chelsea’s campaign so far and has scored more points than any other defender in the league, with a goal and five assists to complement his achievements at the back. Granted, a trip to Anfield on Saturday evening could be a defensive challenge, but just look at the Blues’ run of games after that – it’s a great time to invest in them.
  2. Shkodran Mustafi (ARS, £5.3): Mustafi marked his return to the Arsenal team last weekend with a goal against arch-rivals Tottenham and a points tally of 14 for the mere 2% of FPL managers who own him. Games against Burnley and (in particular) Huddersfield over the next week look like decent prospects for more success from an increasingly in-form Gunners side, so this might be a good time to get on the bandwagon.
  3. Heung-Min Son (TOT, £7.9): During Harry Kane’s recent injury absence Son really stepped up for Tottenham, and he continued that form midweek with the winning goal for his team in Dortmund. You’d be a fool not to field a Spurs player this weekend when they host manager-less West Brom at Wembley, and Son is a cheaper option than Kane, Eriksen or Alli so he’s well worth a look. Just bear in mind that his number of minutes on the pitch could be limited with such competition for places.
  4. Fernandinho (MCI, £5.2): Man City are so good at present that it’s really not a question as to whether you should pick their players, but rather how many and which ones. In previous weeks we’ve recommended all the obvious choices, but don’t overlook
  5. Romelu Lukaku (MUN, £11.5): It’s no coincidence that the Belgian’s five-week goal drought ended last Saturday in the same game that Paul Pogba made his return. With Pogba in the side United create far more chances in each game – and that is very good news indeed for the man leading their attack. A home game against Brighton this weekend seems particularly promising for Lukaku to show that his poor run of form is well and truly over.

NCAA: 16 teams advance to Round 3 of 2017 College Cup

The second round of the NCAA DI Men's Soccer Championship has concluded leaving just 16 teams in the hunt for the 2017 national title. All four no. 1 seeds -- Wake Forest, Indiana, UNC and Louisville -- advance to the Sweet 16.

After 88 scoreless minutes, top-ranked Wake Forest men's soccer broke through with a game-winning penalty kick from Jon Bakero in a 1-0 victory over Columbia. The Demon Deacons (18-1-2) will play host to No. 19 Butler on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m. EST. "Columbia was more disciplined and organized than any team we've played in my three years here. If you watch them all year long, they'd only let up six goals before the NCAA Tournament started," head coach Bobby Muuss said.

The No. 2-seeded Indiana University men's soccer team defeated the No. 25-ranked Old Dominion Monarchs, 3-0, on Sunday. With the victory, the Hoosiers improve to 16-0-5 on the season. IU remains the only undefeated team in the nation and advances to the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 for the 37th time in program history and for the sixth time under head coach Todd Yeagley. They host the New Hampshire Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET

The no, 3 seed UNC defeated UNCW, 2-1, with two second half goals to come from behind and advance to the Sweet 16 to take on SMU on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. This will be the 9th time in the last 10 years the Heels will be playing in the Sweet 16.

Tate Schmitt's goal in the 78th minute lifted the No. 4 Louisville men's soccer team to a 3-2 triumph over San Francisco. With the victory, the Cardinals (12-2-4) advanced to an NCAA third round match against Colgate scheduled for Sunday. Louisville clinched an NCAA third round berth for the second straight season, the third time in the last four seasons and the sixth time in the last eight years under head coach Ken Lolla.

Who do you think will win? Leave a comment!

View the entire NCAA DI Men's Soccer bracket here.

European Soccer Weekend Recap by the Numbers – 11/20/2017

In a brand new weekly column written by Onz Chery, the Daily Soccer Digest brings you a must-read recap of European soccer, strictly by the numbers. Count down with us as we roundup European soccer’s sizzling comeback from the FIFA international break. It was a cranking weekend as Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid played to a scoreless Madrid Derby draw, Sampdoria shocked Juventus, Stuttgart put a dent in Dortmund’s campaign and Arsenal topped Spurs in England’s mouth-watering North London Derby.

The Serie A fans however had the best of it all as Roma played Lazio and Napoli hosted Milan. We start this week’s European Soccer Weekend Recap Countdown in Italy with “numero dieci”…

10. Roma earned their 10th win of the Serie A season with a 2-1 win over Lazio in the Derby della Capitale as Diego Perotti and Radja Nainggolan both netted for Roma. League top scorer Ciro Immobile pulled one back for Lazio in the 90th minute with his 15th goal of the season.

9. Mohamed Salah is the Premier League’s new top scorer with nine goals. Salah scored a brace against Southampton in a 3-0 win to hop over Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Alvaro Morata, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero who are all tied with eight goals. Those strikers won’t be eating salad this week.

8. Juventus didn’t lose any of their last eight games against Sampdoria before last weekend, outscoring them 18-6. Well, Sampdoria had a 3-0 win over Juve all the way to the 89th minute. The Italian champions fought for a comeback, scoring two goals in the 90th minute through Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain but they ran out of time. 3-2 win for Sampdoria.  Duvan Zapata, Lucas Torreira and Gian Marco Ferrari netted for the Genova-based club.

7. Cristiano Ronaldo, AKA CR7, equaled Atletico Madrid’s number of shots, seven, but was unable to find the net as the Madrid Derby ended 0-0. Surprisingly, it was Ronaldo’s seventh La Liga scoreless match this campaign. Los Colchoneros’ number seven Antoine Griezmann is also struggling to score in Spain, not having scored a goal in eight games.

6. Serie A leaders Napoli extended their unbeaten run against Milan to six games by inflicting the former Italian giants their sixth league loss of the season with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

5. Arsenal racked their fifth clean sheet in domestic action this season in a 2-0 win over Tottenham in the North London Derby. A clean sheet against Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen in a derby? This is surely in Arsene Wenger’s top five favorite PL clean sheet of the season so far. Alexis Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi scored for the Gunners.

4. Borussia Dortmund is on a four competitive game losing streak. Yes, you heard right, Borussia Dortmund is on a four game losing streak. The Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund. They lost to 11th placed Stuttgart 2-1. Chadrac Akolo and Josip Brekalo netted for Stuggart while Maxmilian Philip scored BVB’s lone goal. Borussia star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t travel to the game. The club suspended him for “disciplinary reasons.”

3. Barcelona blanked Leganes 3-0, thanks to Luis Suarez’s double and Paulinho’s 90th minute goal. Suarez broke a three-league game goal drought.

2. Edinson Cavani bagged his second consecutive brace in Ligue 1 in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-1 win over Nantes. Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore scored PSG’s remaining two goals. Prejuce Noukalme netted Nantes solitary goal. Kylian Mbappe didn’t play. Head coach Unai Emery said he left him out because "he has played a lot of matches, including with the [French] national team” and he wanted to rotate his players. It was PSG’s notable attacking trio’s second consecutive game with one missing striker.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

1. Sweden number one goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic came back from a six and a half month absence due to a possible career ending knee injury in Manchester United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle United. Ibra didn’t score but hit a wicked bicycle kick on target. When asked how he was able to return to the pitch so quickly after such a serious injury, Zlatan replied "Lions don't recover like humans." Classic Zlatan... In the win Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling, Paul Pogba and Lukaku were on target for United.

Fantasy Five - Tips for your Fantasy Premier League team

The final international break before Christmas is in the books, which means the gameweeks will be coming thick and fast for the rest of the year in Fantasy Premier League! Our friends at Armchair Fancast – the new weekly podcast discussing all the latest happenings from the Premier League – have their top five picks for who should be in your team this coming weekend. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here, and follow them on Twitter here!

  1. Julian Speroni (CRY, £4.0): An Everton team with only two away goals to their name all season are the visitors to Selhurst Park this weekend, while Palace have looked much more solid since shifting to a 4-4-2 formation, meaning a clean sheet is a real possibility. Speroni has established himself between the sticks during the last four weeks, and is a great choice given his low price. Palace also have a very forgiving run of fixtures ahead, making him an even more attractive option in goal.
  2. Stephen Ward (BUR, £4.9): Want to know how Burnley have risen to 7th in the league? Simply look at the number of goals they have conceded – fewer than anyone outside the top three. Their defenders are among the very best in terms of cost per point, and they face a Swansea team for whom a shot on target has been a rarity away from home, let alone a goal. Ward already has a goal and an assist this season, making him a slightly more favourable pick than teammate Ben Mee.
  3. Phil Jones (MUN, £5.5): United’s next three games are against Newcastle, Brighton and Watford – a great chance for them to add to their eight clean sheets in eleven games so far – the best defensive record in the league. Jones is the obvious choice from Mourinho’s back line given his price, but one word of warning: he missed England’s game with Brazil on Tuesday due to a minor calf injury, so it’s worth checking on his status as late as possible before committing to him. If he’s out, splash the cash on Valencia instead!
  4. Mohamed Salah (LIV, £9.4): Liverpool are another team whose fixture list is too tempting to ignore – a home game with Chelsea next week is their only tough-looking game until Christmas week. This week they look to maintain their recent improved form when they host Southampton, and Salah will be looking to add to the 7 goals and 3 assists he has already chalked up this season. He’s increasingly looking like the signing of the summer.
  5. Joshua King (BOU, £7.0): Another injury risk here, as King is looking to shake off a bad back in time for Saturday’s home game against Huddersfield. If he does, there could be plenty of opportunities awaiting him in front of goal – the visitors have conceded five times in their last two matches away from home. Bournemouth are yet another team with a solid run of games ahead: after this week it’s Swansea, Burnley, Southampton and Palace. So if he looks likely to play, pick King as he’s their best prospect up top. Otherwise consider Jermain Defoe or the cheaper Callum Wilson.

NCAA: 2017 Men's College Cup field announced: Wake Forest, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisville given top seeds

The NCAA regular season and conference tournaments have come to a close and we are left with 48 teams competing for the national championship this fall. The 48-team field is made up of the champions of 24 conferences, who qualified automatically, in addition to 24 teams that were selected "at-large". The top 16 teams were seeded and receive first round byes. All first-round games will be played Thursday, Nov. 16. 

Thanks to their 18-1-1 record, Wake Forest earned the top seed in this year’s field. The Demon Deacons, last year’s national runner-up, won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships. Wake Forest is making its seventh straight tournament appearance and 21st overall as it looks to add a second national championship trophy to the one earned in 2007. They will take on the winner of Thursday’s clash between William & Mary and Columbia.

Rounding out the top four are Indiana, North Carolina and Louisville. These top 4 seeds can play their way to Houston without ever leaving home. The rest of the first round byes belong to Duke, Michigan State, Clemson, Stanford, Western Michigan, Virginia, Notre Dame, Michigan, Georgetown, Dartmouth, and Virginia Commonwealth.

The ACC tied its NCAA record with nine teams in the field as North Carolina, Louisville, Duke, Clemson, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State earned bids alongside Wake Forest. Central Arkansas, Lipscomb, Omaha and Presbyterian will all be making their first appearance in the championship, while New Hampshire and Columbia are returning to the tournament for the first time in 23 and 24 years, respectively.The College Cup Final will be held on Dec. 8 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.

View the entire bracket here.

wake forest men's soccer

2017 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament: Schedule

FIRST ROUND

Thursday, Nov. 16

Columbia at William & Mary

Lipscomb at Butler

CSU Fullerton at Pacific

Mercer at Coastal Carolina

Seattle U at Washington

Illinois-Chicago at Wisconsin

Colgate at Massachusetts

San Francisco at California

Presbyterian at UNC Wilmington

Central Arkansas at SMU

St. Francis (Brooklyn) at Fordham

Omaha at Florida International

Air Force at Virginia Tech

Albany at Maryland

Fairfield at New Hampshire

NC State at Old Dominion

SECOND ROUND

Sunday, Nov. 19

No. 1 Wake Forest vs. William & Mary-Columbia winner

No. 16 VCU vs. Butler-Lipscomb winner

No. 9 Stanford vs. Pacific-CSU Fullerton winner

No. 8 Clemson vs. Coastal Carolina-Mercer winner

No. 5 Akron vs. Washington-Seattle U winner

No. 12 Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin-UIC winner

No. 13 Michigan vs. Massachusetts-Colgate winner

No. 4 Louisville vs. California-San Francisco winner

No. 3 North Carolina vs. UNCW-Presbyterian winner

No. 14 Georgetown vs. SMU-Central Arkansas winner

No. 11 Virginia vs. Fordham-St. Francis (Brooklyn) winner

No. 6 Duke vs. FIU-Omaha winner

No. 7 Michigan State vs. Virginia Tech-Air Force winner

No. 10 Western Michigan vs. Maryland-Albany winner

No. 15 Dartmouth vs. New Hampshire-Fairfield winner

No. 2 Indiana vs. Old Dominion-NC State winner

 

Third Round: Saturday, Nov. 25 or Sunday, Nov. 26 — There will be eight Third Round games. Winners advance to the Quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals: Friday, Dec. 1 or Saturday, Dec. 3 — Four Quarterfinal matches will be played. The winners advance to the Men’s College Cup in Philadelphia.

Men’s College Cup: Friday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 10 — The two semifinal games are played on Friday. The two winning teams will then play for the national championship on Sunday. The Men’s College Cup will be played at Talen Energy Stadium Philadelphia.

European Soccer Weekend Recap by the Numbers - 11/6/17

In a brand new weekly column written by Onz Chery, the Daily Soccer Digest brings you a recap of European soccer, striclty by the numbers. Count down with us as we roundup the Premier League’s weekend of massive results, La Liga's tops stories, Bayern Munich brushing Borussia Dortmund aside in the Bundesliga and much more!...

10. Manchester City powered past Arsenal 3-1 to become the first Premier League team to reach 10 league-wins this season. Kevin de Bruyne, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus were on target for City. Alexandre Lacazette netted the Gunners’ lone goal. Pep Guardiola’s men extended their gap on top of the table to eight points over Manchester United with this win.

9. Nice striker’s number 9 Mario Balotelli had a typical "balotelli-esque" game against Dijon on Saturday. He converted a penalty in the 40th minute to give his side a 1-0 win and… had a straight red card. The Italian was red-carded for slide-tackling Dijon center back Cedric Yambere after losing the ball in the 89th minute.

8. Valencia won their 8th straight game on Saturday, blanking Leganes 3-0 in La Liga. Los Che’s victory over Leganes is also their 8th La Liga win of the season. Valencia sits in second place in Spain, four points behind Barcelona after ending last season in 12th place.

7. Alvaro Morata’s 7th league goal of the season granted Chelsea a 1-0 win over rivals Manchester United. Morata’s goal was a dazzling 55th-minute header assisted by César Azpilicueta. United have not defeated Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their last 7 tries.

6. Lionel Messi played his 600th game for Barca last weekend in a 2-1 win over Sevilla. Messi surprisingly didn’t score in his 600th appearance, Saturday’s fixture was actually his 6th scoreless La Liga game. But the Argentine impressively still leads La Liga in scoring this campaign with 12 goals. Oh, and Messi was born on the 6th month—and he’s 6 feet.

5. Uruguayan scoring machine Edinson Cavani bagged his 5th brace of the season in a 5-0 win over Angers. And no, Neymar didn’t score. He didn’t even play due to a left thigh injury. Kylian Mbappe netted twice and Julian Draxler once to complete PSG’s scoring summary. Cavani leads Ligue 1 in scoring with 13 goals this season.

4. Bayern Munich head coach Jupp Heynckes is rolling in his 4th term with the club. The German champions defeated BVB 3-1 with goals from Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and David Alaba. Marc Bartra scored Borussia’s lone goal and American winger Christian Pulisic was praised by his head coach, Peter Bosz, post-game for his impressive performance. Bayern was winless in three games before Heynckes’ re-re-re-arrival.

3. Everton’s number 3 Leighton Baines converted a 91st minute spot kick to give his side a much needed 3rd win of the season in a 3-2 victory over Watford. The Toffees were winless in eight matches before their number three’s PK.

2. Paco Alcacer scored 2 goals for Barcelona in their 2-1 win over Sevilla. Alcacer didn’t need much playing time to build his confidence to save Barca on Saturday, the Spaniard only started 2 matches for his side this season and netted in each of the matches he started.

Juventus Higuain

1. Serie A is the only top  European league without a club running away with the title at the top. The gap between league toppers Napoli and Juventus narrowed to 1 point over the weekend after Maurizio Sarri’s men drew 0-0 with Chievo Verona and Juve's slime 2-1 win over Beneveto thanks to Gonzalo Higuain’s leveler and Juan Cuadrado’s winner.

FIFA U17 World Cup: USA, Germany win big to advance to quarterfinals

5-0 and 4-0 were the scorelines of Monday's FIFA U17 World Cup Round of 16 games as USA downed Paraguay 5-0 and Germany thumped Colombia 4-0. USA's Timothy Weah scored the tournament's second hat-trick in yesterday's win. 17-year-old Weah who signed with PSGthis summer is the son of former striker George Weah, the 1995 Ballon d'Or winner who played for PSG, AC Milan and Monaco during his legendary career. In the other semifinal, Germany produced a combination of sublime skill and brute power, exposing Colombia's defensive frailties with a 4-0 victory to book a place in the last eight. Captain and star striker Jann-Fiete Arp (7' and 65") struck twice, while Yann Bisseck (39') and John Yeboah (49') scored a goal each to help Germany reach the quarterfinals. USA will play the winner of England vs. Japan while Germany will take on the winner of Brazil vs. Honduras... Four more Round of 16 games will be played today:

Getty Images

Getty Images

  • Iran vs. Mexico
  • France vs. Spain
  • England vs. Japan
  • Mali vs. Iraq

On Wednesday Ghana vs. Niger and Brazil vs. Honduras round out the Round of 16. The quarterfinals will be played this Saturday and Sunday. More details can be found at FIFA.com here.

NWSL Championship Preview: North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns

On Saturday, October 14, at 4:30 pm EST the North Carolina Courage takes on the Portland Thorns in the NWSL championship match at Orlando City Stadium. The game will be televised live on Lifetime.

In the semifinals, Portland defeated Orlando 4-1 at home in front of 18,193 fans. The match pitted the league’s top offense, led by Alex Morgan and Marta, against its stingiest defense in Portland. It was Portland who prevailed with two goals on each side of the half. In the second semifinal, North Carolina slipped past Chicago 1-0 thanks to a late game-winning goal by Denise O’Sullivan in the 89th minute.

North Carolina and Portland finished #1 and #2 in the 2017 league standings so it's fitting that the two clubs face off in the championship match. The NWSL Championship will feature some of the top players in women's soccer today. A total of 11 different national teams will be represented in the game, with players from the USA, Canada, France, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Ireland, Iceland and Denmark all competing in the match. Among the players on the field will be 2016 NWSL MVP and rising star Lynn Williams and Canadian Women's National Team legend Christine Sinclair, who ranks second all-time in international goals scored. The NWSL Championship will be final NWSL game for both France Women's National Team star Amandine Henry and Denmark Women's National Team forward Nadia Nadim. Both players have been integral pieces for the Thorns over the last two seasons, but will be leaving the club for new opportunities in Europe next year.

NWSL Championship

World Cup 2018 - Who's in and who's out?

The United States, Chile, and Holland have shocking failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next summer. Qualifying began on March 12, 2015 and as of October 11, 2017, 23 nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia in next year's tournament which means there are 9 spots still up for grabs...

SOUTH AMERICA (CONMEBOL 4.5 PLACES)

With Argentina's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in jeopardy, Lionel Messi carried his nation on his back and scored a hat trick to rally his country to a 3-1 win over Ecuador and a spot in Russia next summer. Argentina join Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia while Peru will play a two-legged playoff vs. New Zealand.

EUROPE (UEFA; 13 PLACES)

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal confirmed their spot at the 2018 World Cup by beating Switzerland 2-0 in their final UEFA qualifier. Anything less than a victory would have seen Portugal forced to go through a two-legged playoff, but instead they top Group B on goal difference above the Swiss, who will drop into the playoffs despite winning all nine of their previous qualifiers. France also eased into the World Cup finals by securing top spot in Group A with a 2-1 win at home to Belarus. Portugal and France join Belgium, England, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Serbia and Spain. Teams battling in the playoffs include Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Greece. Sadly, Gareth Bale and Wales failed to qualify. Iceland however, have become the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup, eclipsing 2006's Trinidad & Tobago. The northern European country, who famously knocked England out of Euro 2016, has a population of just over 335,000 people.

NORTH AMERICA, CENTRAL AMERICA, CARIBBEAN (CONCACAF; 3.5 PLACES)

In one of the biggest shocks of qualifying, The United States have failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. were upset in Trinidad & Tobago losing 2-1 to a second-tier Soca Warriors side while both Honduras and Panama won their games to pass the Americans in the CONCACAF standings. Honduras earned the final qualifying spot with a 3-2 victory of already-qualified Mexico and Panama scored a last gasp goal to beat Costa Rica 2-1. This is the first American group not to make the World Cup since 1986. Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama are going to Russia next summer while Honduras will play a home and away playoff series against Australia.

ASIA (AFC; 4.5 PLACES)

Iran, ranked no. 25 in the world, was the very first nation to qualify for World Cup 2018. They earned 6 wins, 4 draws and only allowed 2 goals against in 10 games. They will be going to Russia along with South Korea and Saudi Arabia. Australia will need to defeat Honduras in a playoff series to also book their tickets.

AFRICA (CAF; 5 PLACES)

We're approaching the climax of Africa's World Cup qualifying programme, with Nigeria and Egypt having booked their tickets to Russia already. Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was the hero for Egypt with a brace as the Pharaohs reached the finals for the first time in 27 years, in the process ending Ghana's feint hopes of qualification during October's 2-1 win. Egypt have only turned out at the World Cup finals on two previous occasions, in 1934 and 1990. They have never won a game at that level, so there is the chance for history to be made in 2018. Tunisia appear primed to follow them, while Morocco, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Senegal all have their destinies in their own hands as they look to secure one of the continent's five spots at for next summer's global showpiece.

Source: ESPNFC

Source: ESPNFC

FIFA: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar lead 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the favorite to retain his Ballon d'Or as he was named to the 30-man shortlist alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski. Ronaldo, who beat Messi and Griezmann to the award last year, helped Real Madrid to a third Champions League crown in four seasons and a first La Liga title in five years, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup. He scored twice as Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final, while also finishing top scorer in the competition with 12 goals, and was one of the final names revealed by award organizers France Football on Monday.

Ronaldo is set to face competition competition from long-time rival Messi, who finished up as La Liga's top scorer with 37 goals -- 12 ahead of Ronaldo -- and helped Barcelona to Copa del Rey success in what was a largely disappointing season for the club. Spain's La Liga leads all leagues with 11 nominees, followed by the Premier League with seven, Serie A with five, Ligue 1 with four and the Bundesliga with three. PSG are the only other club with at least three, with Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe. Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, and Liverpool all have two players on the list. France lead all countries with four players, ahead of Belgium, Brazil, and Spain with three each.

Ballon d'Or 2017 nominees:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Edinson Cavani (PSG), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), David De Gea (Manchester United), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Isco (Real Madrid), Harry Kane (Tottenham), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Neymar (PSG), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

CONCACAF WCQ: Mexico and Costa Rica in, USA controls own destiny

Two of CONCACAF’s 3.5 spots in Russia next summer are claimed, and the race is on Tuesday at 8pm EST for that final automatic place and a date with either Australia or Syria in a last-chance playoff for finishing fourth. Costa Rica and Mexico are in for sure.

USA, on the other hand, knows a draw will most likely be good enough to leave Trinidad & Tobago with a World Cup ticket in hand, so any sort of clean sheet for USA would be enough to book a spot in Russia. However, as the U.S. Men’s National Team looks to brush T&T aside to earn the third qualifying spot two more matches with implications for that crucial fourth place position will go down -- Panama and Honduras each sit at ten points in a tie for fourth place. Panama holds the advantage thanks to their -2 goal difference, compared to Honduras’s -7. They both sit a pair of points behind the third place Americans. They each face difficult home challenges as they wrap up their qualifying campaign, with a fourth, or even third, place finish still in sight.

Tuesday's final World Cup Qualifying matches

  • CONCACAF WCQ: Trinidad & Tobago-USA 8 pm
  • CONCACAF WCQ: Honduras-Mexico 8 pm
  • CONCACAF WCQ: Panama-Costa Rica 8 pm

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Standings (as of 10.9.17)

CONCACAF World Cup Standings