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Tuesday Kickoff: Messi named La Liga’s best; Napoli top of Serie A; and more


Lionel Messi earned himself a couple pieces of hardware on Monday.

The three finalists for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award were named early on Monday, but later that evening, Messi was named La Liga’s Best Forward and Best Player for the 2014-15 season.

“I share this award with Luis (Suarez) who deserves it just as much as I do,” Messi said after he received the award.

In total, Barcelona members won five awards, including Best Goalkeeper in Claudio Bravo, Best Coach in Luis Enrique Martínez and Best American Player in Neymar.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, was recognized with three awards, including, Fans Five-Star Player in Cristiano Ronaldo, Best Defender in Sergio Ramos and Best Midfielder in James Rodriguez.

Messi, 28, scored 43 La Liga goals with Barca as it won the treble last campaign — which included a league title, a Copa del Rey victory and the UEFA Champions League crown.

Here are some more news and notes:


Monday’s top-of-the-table Serie A clash made the Italian race for first that much more exciting.

Heading into the affair, Inter Milan had every reason to expect a victory, having won its four previous matches while keeping a shutout in each outing. Napoli, however, broke the streak, as Gonzalo Higuain scored a brace to lead his side to the top of the Serie A table.

The Argentine scored the first goal a little more than a minute into play, and Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo was shown a red card after he received his second yellow just before halftime to give the home side all of the momentum.

Higuain scored again a little more than an hour into play, and while Adem Ljajic scored five minutes after that to make things interesting, Inter Milan couldn’t muster a tie down a man.

With the win, Napoli is now first on the Serie A table with 31 points through 14 games, while Inter Milan has 30 points. In Serie A’s other contest on Monday, Fiorentina could have leapfrogged Inter with a win, but it settled for a 1-1 tie with Sassuolo. Fiorentina is third on the table with 29 points.


Karim Benzema has appeared for club since the investigation into his blackmail involvement began, but one official in France thinks he should be sidelined for country.

Benzema was charged with conspiracy to blackmail and participating in a criminal group at the beginning of November, and is still being investigated as the group attempted to blackmail his French teammate, Mathieu Valbuena, with an alleged sex tape. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls thinks the 27-year-old striker may set a bad example by playing for the national team.

“A great athlete should be exemplary. If he is not, he has no place in the France team,” Valls told French radio.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes. They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”


Real Madrid centerback Sergio Ramos says Barcelona should enjoy its good run of form because “nothing lasts forever.” (REPORT)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he will not be looking to sign a goalkeeper during the January transfer window. (REPORT)

While Frank Rijkaard and Michael Laudrup are rumored to be hired as the next Valencia head coach, former AS Monaco sporting director Luis Campos is reportedly next in line to take the same role at Valencia. (REPORT)

Chelsea submitted an application for a new stadium at Stamford Bridge, which will see it expand seating capacity from 41,600 to 60,000. (REPORT)

David Moyes says that if given the opportunity, he’d like to coach in one of Europe’s top leagues again. (REPORT)


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