GIVEMESPORT Awards #9: Lionel Messi statue, Olivier Giroud and Thomas Partey feature


'Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi' might just be the most common turn of phrase in the history of sport. Yeh, seriously.

Forget 'hello' or 'how are you?', the world of football journalism tends to go barrelling into statistical studies and data debates about the two Ballon d'Or winners before you can even shake another reporter's hand... from two metres away.

Who cares how you're feeling or what you're doing this weekend when we can burrow ten metres deep into the goal-per-game ratios of the Barcelona and Juventus superstars whenever there's a full moon!? 

Messi vs Ronaldo

And trust me, dear reader, I'm not above this behaviour by any stretch of the imagination, I've written more Ronaldo vs Messi articles than I have brain cells, so, by my count, that's at least got to be four.

But this week, desperately trying to come up with the billionth way to compare the two - I wonder who has longer toenails? - goes flying out of the window because they're actually on course to play each other for the first time in two years.

I know, you'd think by your Twitter feed that they played each other on a daily basis with enough threads, montages and outright abuse to make me believe I'm not alone in jabbing at my keyboard from my mum's basement.



Then again, it's the final game-week of the Champions League group stages and both teams have already qualified, so Messi and Ronaldo might not even play... but who cares!? Let's close our eyes and hope for the best.

Which, truth be told, has proven to be quite an effective tactic when it comes to dealing with 2020 in general, so think real hard about that sunshine, rainbow and baby bunnies as we embark upon the latest GMS Awards.

Besides, what better way to prepare for Champions League carnage than reflecting upon the most sexually-suggestive managerial comment of the last week - am I right? Right??? Somebody????


Goal of the week

Heung-min Son vs Arsenal

Jose Mourinho has his hand pressed down on the horn of his Premier League-contending bus right now because Tottenham are leading the way in England's top-flight having won the North London Derby.

But let's be honest here, the game was basically over within the first 15 minutes as Harry Kane and Son combined for the ten-billionth time in the competition's history with an absolute worldie outside the penalty area.

Son effortlessly galloped down the left wing after picking up the ball from his partner in crime, before giving Bernd Leno absolutely no chance with an inch-perfect curved finish into the far top corner.

Player of the week

Olivier Giroud

Ah, it's that time of year again when Giroud reminds whoever's in the Chelsea dugout that they've made a massive mistake stapling him to the bench and giving him big ideas about running for the hills in January.

And once again, Giroud has forced Frank Lampard's hand by dropping a series of fantastic displays, including all four(!?) goals during the 4-0 Champions League win at Sevilla and another strike in the 3-1 Leeds United victory.

That's as many goals as Tammy Abraham has registered all season and if it wasn't for Timo Werner producing one of the worst misses of the year, he would have had a brace to his name on Saturday.

Credit to Giroud because there was serious competition for the award this week and Caoimhin Kelleher deserves a special shoutout for keeping clean sheets on his European and Premier League debuts.


Manager of the week

Diego Simeone

First and foremost, Simeone deserves this spot for becoming the first coach since Jurgen Klopp back in March 2019 to avoid defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League - drawing 1-1 in Madrid.

Sure, Hansi Flick was playing a weakened version of his all-powerful XI, but Atletico still did fantastically to lead 1-0 until the closing moments and Simeone is frankly turning Joao Felix into a superstar.

Then, at the weekend, came a 2-0 win over Real Valladolid that might not seem mind-blowing, but elevated Los Rojiblancos to the La Liga summit and underlined their astonishing defensive record.

It was the eighth clean sheet that Jan Oblak and co have executed in their first 10 league games, conceding just twice, while Simeone hasn't watched his team spend a single second trailing in La Liga this season.


Game of the week

İstanbul Başakşehir 3-4 RB Leipzig

Group H is shaping up for box-office entertainment in the Champions League with Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig all gridlocked on nine points going into the final games.

And that's thanks in no small part to the German competitors securing a dramatic win in the Turkish capital, which commenced with Yussuf Poulsen and Nordi Mukiele firing the visitors into a 2-0 lead.

However, Başakşehir made Julian Nagelsmann's men fight for the points with a stellar hat-trick from İrfan Kahveci, only broken up by a Dani Olmo strike, ensuring the tie was locked at 3-3 going into stoppage time.

But it wasn't to be for the group whipping boys as Alexander Sørloth picked the perfect moment to notch his first Leipzig goal when his deflected strike in stoppage time teed up a winner-takes-all clash with United.

Outrageous skill of the week

Neymar vs Manchester United

Speaking of the Red Devils... they didn't have quite the same fortunes during game-week five of the Champions League group stages, bottling the chance to qualify in a 3-1 defeat to PSG at Old Trafford.

And it had a lot to do with a masterclass from Neymar who scored the French champions' first and third goals on the night with the latter kick-started by an unbelievable turn of skill from the Brazilian.

Neymar turned the 'Theatre of Dreams' into his personal dancefloor with mesmerising footwork that had Alex Telles, Bruno Fernandes and Harry Maguire seeing stars and eventually, their team falling 3-1 down.

Fallon d'Floor

Jack Grealish vs West Ham United

There's something about criticising Grealish that doesn't feel right this season because the Aston Villa skipper has been simply magical, but there was no defending his Tom Daly impression on Monday.

Grealish would have been slammed for his grenade-went-off-at-my-feet levitation alone, never mind what felt like five minutes transpiring between the actual contact and him grabbing his knee as though it exploded.

It was like someone was pressing that button in GTA when you randomly leap out of a moving car at 70mph for no apparent reason, but either way, it certainly wasn't down to Pablo Fornals having a titanium toe.

Strangest punditry of the week

Michael Owen: Fred wouldn't play for me again

Take it away, Michael: "Mistakes all round really. It was a red card. There wasn't much [in the headbutt] but come on, you're a grown man.

"You don't have to do these petulant little things to put your team at risk. If I was a manager and one of my players did this, just pure petulance, then he wouldn't play for me again. It's pathetic really."

Hmmm, yeh... so, Michael, we know you get some pretty unfair stick when it comes to your punditry, but we're not entirely sure what went wrong here - did you want to prove you're all Roy Keane by being a cheeky bit brutal?

No offence, but I don't think there's any threat of you getting the United job nor Fred, for all the idiocy of his yellow cards, being exiled to the reserves in shame, never to play for the club again until he's flogged.


Disasterclass of the week

Wax statue of Lionel Messi

Oh dear lord, did Barcelona not get the memo that Halloween was a month ago? It's no wonder this new waxwork of Messi has gone viral for all the wrong reasons because there's just something so, erm, creepy about it.

The statue has been compared to everybody from Neto, Gylfi Sigurðsson, Jake Paul, Aaron Ramsey, Jake Gyllenhaal and yes, that absolutely iconic bust of Ronaldo that always cracks me up.

I'm just inclined to think that it looks like Messi after a fortnight of fasting, returning from a really heavy night out and nursing his rocking hangover by getting his eyebrows plucked by his dog.

Credit to the sculptor because it's 100 times better than any of us mere mortals could manage, but when you're that crucial 1% away from nailing it, the final product always seems terrifying.


Tweet of the week

VAR doesn't understand physics

Truth be told, United fans should bow down to the throne of VAR this week because not only did it fail to send off Fred for headbutting Leandro Paredes, but it allowed their equaliser at West Ham to stand.

Every man and his dog, as well as his cousin, extended family, work colleagues, former lovers and beard trimmer, saw that Dean Henderson's long ball had gone out of play before Paul Pogba found the net.

Notice, however, that the bloke's VAR wasn't included in that because the technology at Stockley Park clearly thought that the United keeper's pass broke the laws of physics by literally hugging the touch-line.

And nobody made a mockery of this Premier League error quite like Twitter user @_Hazpilicueta, who perfectly demonstrated how Henderson has the power to manipulate a ball's movement like no other.


Craziest bet of the week

Cash-out before the battery dies

Turning £15 into more than £300 is pretty easy when you've got the predictive powers of Twitter user @Stocky_1984, who correctly forecasted four results across European football to earn himself a tidy payday.

'Stocky' got the full-time scores of West Ham vs Manchester United, Juventus vs Torino, Atletico Madrid vs Valladolid absolutely spot on to increase his pot 20 times over.

However, his phone battery is what makes this our winner because Grimsby knocking on the door late on in their clash at Colchester prompted Kev Stockwell to cash-out before his phone died in some last-gasp drama of his own.


Sunday League award

Reece James vs Leeds United

With the joys of pub football only just returning to the Sunday plough-fields with its hungoverness this week, we are instead directing our attention to a moment that channels the spirit of the amateur game.

And Chelsea's James turned himself the sort of walking, talking wind-up merchant we're used to seeing in the Duck and Hound squad with a display against Leeds that saw him throwing Patrick Bamford around like a ragdoll.

But it was his hilarious time-wasting before a throw-in that really took the biscuit as he kicked the ball away, allowed it to hit his shoulder and face all before giving the fourth official a cheeky look.

If you're thinking this would ordinarily slip into our s***housery category, then you're right, but this has been no ordinary week, especially when you consider what happened in the Bundesliga.

S***housery award

Silas Wamangituka vs Werder Bremen

Oh yes, to say there was controversy in Stuttgart vs Bremen would be a bigger understatement than declaring Messi is alright at football, Adama Traore has mildly-large arms and Mini Cheddars are the most overrated biscuits.

Ahum, personal grievances aside, Wamangituka achieved the unthinkable feat of scoring a goal so disrespectful that the referee had no choice but to book him for unsportsmanlike behavior. Seriously.

With the 21-year-old forward capitalising on a terrible defensive error from Bremen by rounding the goalkeeper and leaving himself an open goal, he proceeded to take the absolute p*** out of his opponents.

The Stuttgart man took 10 seconds to stick the ball in the net, humiliating Jiří Pavlenka by forcing him to chase a goal he knew would be converted in arguably the biggest piece of s***housery we've ever seen.

The Roy Keane award

Mikel Arteta-Thomas Partey incident

Nothing could have been more symbolic of Arsenal's derby capitulation than Arteta physically pushing Partey back onto the pitch after he left the defence short before a Spurs goal by simply walking off.

You could tell by the former Atletico man's laboured jog towards Kane scoring that he wasn't 100%, but you just know that Keane would have been raging if this happened back in the day at United.

He wouldn't have pushed Partey back onto the pitch, he would have catapulted him into the penalty area with his bare hands and would ignore the word 'injury' unless he could see a snapped bone with his own two eyes.

But even if every bone in Partey's body was broken, you just know that the Irishman would have been seething at the sheer pantomime nature of the Arsenal boss literally having to force his player to defend.

Urban dictionary of the week

Word: Warnocked (verb)

Definition: To criticise something in a hilariously over-the-top fashion

In a sentence: I gave Greggs the absolute warnocking of my life after my sausage roll was cold this morning. I came sprinting back into the store, declaring that I wouldn't feed that ice-cold pastry and pig combination to my dead cat and that the sausage rolls we serve at my place are volcanic when they come out the oven. I hadn't even my notice and I don't even work there.

Man Utd penalty of the week

Not applicable

You what??? I nearly fell off my chair when I realised that not a single spot-kick was awarded to United this week across their men's, women's and youth teams - 2020 you've done it again, you absolute nutcase.

I don't even know what to do with this part of the article now - shall I tell a joke? I'm going to pretend you said 'yes', so: what did Bruno Fernandes say when we got a parking ticket? 'Don't worry mate I'm used to taking penalties'.

I'll see myself out... I'm just thankful that the Red Devils' uncanny knack for penalties has meant that this is just the second week out of nine that neither of their teams or players has taken a spot-kick. Madness.


Managerial innuendo of the week

Frank Lampard on Olivier Giroud

"As soon as I came in I could feel the positivity of him as a player."

Wowsers, questionable methods there, Frank, but it clearly did the trick based on his Sevilla performance... talk about team bonding.


TV Burp award

Most damningly-exposed office gossiping session of the week


Come on, guys, you should know better than to b**** about Martin from finance while Shakhtar Donetsk launch a counterattack against you - and scores for that matter, yikes.

Another week of carnage

How reassuring to know that the Messi vs Ronaldo reunion is being ushered in by disprespectful goals, Warnock popping blood vessels and an atrocious wax statue of one of the players themselves.

Truth be told, the more I write these articles, the less I start to think that football is the 'beautiful game' and the more I love it for being this bizarre, stumbling creature that vomits about strange and funny moments each week.

Then again, United did sail me up s*** creek without a paddle by miraculously going a whole week without a penalty - 2020, you really are a madman. 


So, who knows? Maybe Barcelona vs Juventus won't be the glittering display of legends that we're predicting it to be, but will instead secrete the amusement of s***housery and sexual innuendos for me to slurp up.

Either way, I'm off to think long, hard and deeply about who would come out on top if Ronaldo and Messi competed in a UFC bout. Wait... that's already been done? Christ, the toenails it is then...

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