An award for Cristiano and an uneven draw
Luck of the draw
The first port of call is the Champions League draw, which once again saw Madrid land a favourable group. It’s true that their group is by no means no plain sailing (Benfica and Leicester, neighbours in Pot 1, had a pretty cushy deal), but it was much better than for other Spanish sides. For Barça, City spells trouble, no so much on a footballing level (which is high but not as high as Barça), but because of what it represents to have Guardiola opposite. At Barça there has been a long-running Cruyffismo-Guardiolismo, accuentuated further as each day passes. Coming up against Guardiola is awkward, and if that’s the way it had to be then the later the better.
Madrid, on the other hand, have escaped having to face Casillas. Of course, it’s not quite the same, but still, it would have reignited those embers of Mourinho’s tenure, embers that still glow and have never completely faded. Avoiding that was the best thing. Atleti, meanwhile, came out of Pot 2 to find themselves sandwiched between Bayern and PSV. Topping that group will be far from easy, and finishing second will not be a given either, but then we have got used to the word easy and Atlético being at opposite sides of the scale. The draw wasn’t exactly kind to Sevilla, undergoing a revamp with Sampaoli, as they size up against Juventus, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb. But when all is said and done, I expect all four to progress.
A worthy winner
In terms of the best player, there were no surpises: the tireless Cristiano Ronaldo. Another season topping 50 goals and the standard-bearer in both European competitions for club and country. Griezmann was certainly in with a shout in both competitions but fell at the final hurdles. Let’s not forget that both finals went to extra-time, and in the Champions League penalties, yet Cristiano Ronaldo is a different beast. He is the only one with the ability to keep up with Messi year after year, and even frequently rise above him.
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