Messi a Finalist for UEFA’s Best Player in Europe Award

Lionel Messi is the among best of the best in Europe this year…

The 28-year-old Argentine soccer star was named one of the three finalists nominated for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award of the 2014-2015 season, alongside Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.

Lionel Messi

Journalists from each of the 54 UEFA associations gave a list of their top five players, after which the top players were given five points, the second were given four, and so on.

The 10 players with the most points entered a second ballot, which on Wednesday pared down the list to three finalists: two players from Barcelona and one from Real Madrid.

Next, jury members will submit their selection from among the finalists, and will meet the winner during the draw for the group stage of the 2015-2016 Champions League in Monaco.

As of late, the UEFA prize was awarded to Messi in 2011, Andres Iniesta in 2012, Franck Ribery in 2013, and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014.

Messi and Ronaldo are both looking to win the award for a second time, while Suarez is still aiming for his first.

The fourth favorite nominee was Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, and Brazil’s Neymar came in fifth.

The winner will be announced on August 27.

Rodriguez: 2014’s Top Trending Athlete on Google

James Rodríguez is a Google god…

The 23-year-old Colombian footballer, who plays for Real Madrid and the Colombian national team, top’s Google’s year-end list of Trending Athletes.

James Rodríguez

In his first opportunity to shine on the world soccer stage, Rodríguez managed to become Colombia’s golden boy. Searches for him grew more than for any other player during this year’s World Cup.

Rodríguez finished as the World Cup’s top scorer, making the FIFA All-Star Team, before landing a move to Real Madrid. He went on to be named 2014’s El Hombre Más Sexy by People en Español.

Here’s a look at the Latinos who made this year’s Top 10 list of Trending Athletes on Google.

No. 1 James Rodriguez
No. 4 Luis Suarez
No. 5 Neymar
No. 8 Francisco Guillermo Ochoa Magaña

To see all the lists, simply visit Google.com/2014.

Rodriguez Scores Two Goals to Lead Colombia Into Its First World Cup Quarterfinal

World Cup 2014

It looks like James Rodriguez is emerging at this year’s FIFA World Cup superstar…

The 22-year-old Colombian footballer scored a pair of goals to give Colombia a 2-0 victory on Saturday over Uruguay, earning his team its first-ever World Cup quarterfinal berth.

James Rodriguez

The Uruguayans came into the match at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium with a chip on their shoulder after Luis Suarez was given a nine-match international ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in Group D action Tuesday, but the loss of their star striker proved too much against Jose Pekerman’s talented squad.

Both teams started off the match at an unhurried pace, patiently looking to mount their attacks in the Round of 16 knockout match.

But when it seemed that the crowd of 73,804 might have to wait a while for the action to heat up, Rodriguez produced one of the most stunning goals of the 2014 World Cup in the 28th minute.

The play started with midfielder Abel Aguilar lofting a ball in the direction of forward Jackson Martinez, who was standing just outside Uruguay’s penalty area.

Uruguayan defender Maxi Pereira tried to clear the ball but it went back to Aguilar, who headed to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez proceeded to bounce the ball off his chest to give himself some space and then, without letting it hit the ground, fired a left-footed rocket from 25 yards out that hit the crossbar over the outstretched arm of net minder Fernando Muslera and ricocheted into the goal.

It was Rodriguez’s fourth goal of the World Cup and tied him for the tournament lead along with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Brazil’s Neymar and Germany’s Thomas Müller.

But Rodriguez, who plays for AS Monaco in Ligue 1, wasn’t done yet.

Just five minutes into the second half, midfielder Juan Guillermo Cuadrado received a cross from defender Pablo Armero and headed it back across the box to Rodriguez, who knocked a right-footed shot into a practically empty net for his tournament-leading fifth goal.

Nearly an entire half of soccer still remained to be played but Uruguay, lacking Suarez’s firepower, was unable to cut into the lead against a well-organized defense backed by stellar goalkeeper David Ospina.

Next up for this history-making Colombian squad will be host nation Brazil, which topped Chile on penalties earlier Saturday.

That quarterfinal clash will be played Friday at Castelao Stadium in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

Messi Earns His Second European Golden Boot

Lionel Messi is getting the boot again…

The 25-year-old Argentine striker received his second Golden Boot for being the top scorer in the European national leagues, thanks to his 50 goals last season with Futbol Club Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga.

Lionel Messi

And Messi, who was named the best international athlete at this year’s ESPY Awards, is ready for more accolades.

“My objective is to achieve many more great things,” said Messi, who claimed his third straight Ballon d’Or in January. “I’ve always been that way and I will be that way until the end of my career.”

Messi insisted, however, that what he really cares about are team honors, as he thanked his Barcelona teammates for helping him to a second Golden Boot.

“We fight to win titles. We’re lucky to be doing very well in Liga and in Champions (League), and tomorrow we begin the competition for the Copa del Rey, but I don’t battle for the Golden Boot,” said Messi.

Messi received the award at a gala event in Barcelona, where he was joined by teammates from Barça and the coach of the Argentine national team along with other prominent figures in soccer and sports.

Messi accepted the Golden Boot from former player and coach Luis Suarez, the only Spanish recipient of the Ballon d’Or, FIFA’s prize for World Player of the Year.

Messi, who has never played for another professional club, said his dream is to end his career with FC Barcelona.

Daddy Yankee to Perform at Messi’s Charity Soccer Match

Daddy Yankee is partnering with soccer star Lionel Messi to raise money for at-risk children…

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican reggaeton star will perform Thursday in Bogota during Match of the Stars, a benefit soccer match that aiming to raise money for the Leo Messi Foundation.

Daddy Yankee

“I wanted to accompany Messi and the rest of the players who are getting behind this cause,” Daddy Yankee said about the project organized by the 24-year-old Argentine futbolista, who was recently named the world’s best soccer player for the third straight year.

Daddy Yankee, the mastermind behind the popular songs “Gasolina” and “Impacto,” will sing during the halftime show at the exhibition game to be played at Bogota’s iconic El Campin stadium.

The money raised for the Messi Foundation will be used to help needy children in Colombia.

“Colombia has given me a lot and we have to support every initiative that helps make sure that the different foundations sheltering poor boys and girls in Colombia can to keep caring for them,” said Daddy Yankee.

During his halftime show, Daddy Yankee will premiere his new single “Pasarela” for the Colombian audience, as well as perform his hit song “Lovumba.” Both singles are included on his latest album Prestige, which goes on sale later this summer.

The lineup for the Match of the Stars will include the Argentines Messi and Javier Mascherano, Uruguayans Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez and the Colombian Radamel Falcao, all of whom will take part in the World Soccer Masters Tour at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, June 23.