Monday Kickoff: Bale takes home awards; Zanetti suffers serious injury; and more

Monday Kickoff: Bale takes home awards; Zanetti suffers serious injury; and more

South American Soccer

Monday Kickoff: Bale takes home awards; Zanetti suffers serious injury; and more

GarethBale-WestHam1 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

For just the third time in history, one player has bagged both the Professional Footballers’ Association Player and Young Player of the Year awards in a season.

Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Gareth Bale has achieved the feat, winning the PFA Player of the Year award for the second time in three seasons after scoring 19 goals in 29 Premier League matches this season.

The 23-year-old also made the PFA Team of the Year alongside teammate Jan Vertonghen, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, and Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie, David De Gea, Michael Carrick, and Rio Ferdinand.

The Welsh international Bale has been consistent in his performances all season and raised his play in an eight-game stretch from the end of January to the first week of March, when he scored 10 goals in all competitions to lead Spurs to six wins and two draws.

Here are some more stories to get your week kicked off:

ZANETTI TEARS ACHILLIES, OUT INDEFINITELY

A stunned Inter Milan support wakes up on Monday to find out that their captain will be on the sidelines for an indefinite period of time.

After going off in the 17th minute of Inter’s 1-0 loss to Palermo on Saturday, tests confirmed that Javier Zanetti had torn his left Achilles tendon, likely forcing him off the pitch for at least nine months.

The 39-year-old has been one of the top players in Serie A, defying his age in recent years to play week in and week out for Inter. Zanetti has made 48 appearances for his club in all competitions this season, an amazing record. The Argentine native has said he hopes that he can come back and play at least one more season for the fans.

BARCELONA GAIN BOOST AHEAD OF BAYERN MATCH

Two of Barcelona’s walking wounded have returned to first team training, giving the side a huge lift ahead of their rematch on Wednesday with Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals.

Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets were seen training on the side of the pitch on Sunday as they work their way back to full fitness. Busquets missed his side’s draw at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday with a slight groin strain, while Mascherano has been out of action since suffering a torn MCL in Barcelona’s first-leg match against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Playing without Mascherano and possibly a hurt Busquets, the Catalonia side suffered a heavy defeat to Bayern last Tuesday, with the back four of Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra, and Dani Alves not enjoying the evening. While it’s not confirmed, the club are hopeful that both of the players can be fit to be part of the 18 for Wednesday’s match.

MARACANÃ STADIUM IN BRAZIL REOPENS BEHIND SCHEDULE

Following three years of repairs and upgrades, the legendary Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro reopened with a friendly on Sunday between sides captained by past Brazil heros Ronaldo and Bebeto, respectively.

The reported $448 million construction costs turned the interior of the stadium into a single bowl, with an all-seated capacity of around 78,000 seats. The underground facilities also received a facelift as well, according to the former World Cup winner Ronaldo.

“Another stadium has been delivered,” Ronaldo told Reuters. “The pitch is sensational. The stands are beautiful, so are the internal facilities, everything is really good.”

Despite the opening and friendly match, there are still numerous reports that the stadium is unfinished, despite the deadline having been last December. The Maracana is the fourth of 12 stadiums that has been opened ahead of next year’s World Cup.

QUICK KICKS

Blackburn Rovers have been ordered by a court of law to pay £2.25 million to former manager Henning Berg after he was sacked just 57 days into the job. (REPORT)

German rising star Julian Draxler has promised that he will not move to Borussia Dortmund, despite speculation the 19-year-old could replace the outgoing Mario Götze. (REPORT)

FC Nurnberg is interested in signing former Bayern Munich defender Breno, who is currently in the middle of serving a three year sentence for arson. (REPORT)

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes that Luis Suarez should have won Player of the Year. (REPORT)

Real Madrid transfer target Geoffrey Kondogbia has said that it’s been his dream since he was a kid to play with Real. (REPORT)

Former Germany midfielder Stefan Effenberg is the top choice to take over at FC Schalke this summer. (REPORT)

Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk have won their fourth straight league title. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you agree with the PFA’s choice of Bale for POY? Do you see Zanetti playing for Inter again? Do you believe that Mascherano will play for Barcelona on Wednesday?

Share your thoughts below.

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