Harder, Lewandowski sweep 2019-20 UEFA awards
UWCL champions Wendie Renard and Sarah Bouhaddi were other major recepients of individual honours at the expanded UEFA Awards ceremony.
The Champions League group stage draw at the RTS Studios in Geneva had no dull moment! Hosts Reshmin Chowdhury and Pedro Pinto are veterans at UEFA events but they had their work cut out on 1st October. There was not a moment of respite for the duo, who shuffled between interviewing award winners and declaring the draws for the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League.
They didn’t have to pick random chits and assign the teams into groups. Former Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda were there to do this. The former footballers gave football fans around the world an inevitable headline: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus would face Lionel Messi’s Barcelona twice in the group stage.
Earlier in the event, Ivory Coast superstar Drogba became the first non-European to win the UEFA President’s Award.
The presenters, for their part had had more interviewing than they were used to. For the first time, UEFA decided to extend the awards for women based on playing position.
It goes to show how serious European football’s governing body has become about women’s football. After the Women’s Champions League final in August, they had announced that their partnership with PepsiCo would expand into the women’s game.
Expectedly, the Champions League winners swept away the individual awards. Olympique Lyonnais Women had beaten VFL Wolfsburg to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the 5th time in a row. Bayern Munich’s men’s team won their first continental trophy since 2013.
Olympique Lyonnais and France’s Sarah Bouhaddi won UEFA Women’s Champions League Goalkeeper of the Year award. To be fair to her consistency, it would have been a bigger surprise had she not won the trophy. Lyon have won seven Champions League titles and Bouhaddi has been a part of all of those triumphs alongside captain Wendie Renard. In her seven UEFA Women’s Champions League [UWCL] appearances in 2019-20, she kept 5 clean sheets and conceded just 2 goals.
Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer won the award for the men’s Goalkeeper of the Year.
The inspirational figure of Lyon captain Wendie Renard was too hard to look past. Renard was named the first UEFA Women’s Champions League Defender of the Year. The 30 year old has the record for the most appearances in the Women’s Champions League. Like teammate Sarah Bouhaddi, she has played in 9 UWCL finals and has led Olympique Lyonnais to the title on each occasion in the last 5 seasons.
Renard is a solid defender but she has shown adeptness at attacking the set pieces too. She scored 5 goals in 6 appearances, most notably scoring her team’s only goal against PSG Women in the semi-final.
Bayern Munich’s versatile defender Joshua Kimmich won the UEFA men’s Defender of the Year.
Playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsan became the first UEFA Women’s Champions League Midfielder of the Year. The Lyon ace recorded a competition high 5 assists in 6 appearances last season. She has won the UWCL five times – once with Frankfurt in her native Germany and four consecutive titles with Lyon, whom she joined in 2016.
Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne won the men’s award for the Midfielder of the Year.
Denmark’s Pernille Harder and Norway’s Ada Hegerberg are media-hyped rivals. Much like the competition that is made to be seen between Cristiano and Messi. Both sets of players are complete forwards who have their own devoted followers. Hegerberg, though has been plagued with injury over the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Harder has enhanced her reputation as an all-round attacker for Denmark, Wolfsburg and now Chelsea in this period.
Soon after her heartbreaking UWCL final loss, the former Wolfsburg captain signed with Chelsea Women, becoming the most expensive women’s footballer in the process.
She scored 38 goals in 33 appearances last season. 9 of them came in the UWCL.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski won the UEFA men’s Forward of the Year. The Polish forward hit 55 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions in 2019-20. 15 of them came in the Champions League.
Talismanic forwards Pernille Harder and Robert Lewandowski won the UEFA Champions League Player of the Year awards.
Harder became the first player to receive the award for the second time, winning it previously for her performances in the 2017-18 campaign. She edged Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze and Lyon’s Wendie Renard to the award. Renard finished as the runner-up while Bronze came in 3rd place.
Lewandowski had a magical 2019-20 season. He scored 15 goals and laid on a further 6 assists in FC Bayern’s treble winning season. At one point it seemed like he would even beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 goals in a Champions League season.
Jean-Luc Vasseur [Olympique Lyonnais women] and Hans Dieter Flick [Bayern Munich men] won the Coach of the Year Award.