Modric wins Ballon d’Or award; The defining Champions Cup rounds are here

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 Ada Hegerberg, Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe with their ‘Ballon d’Or’ trophies. Photograph: PA

Ada Hegerberg, Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe with their ‘Ballon d’Or’ trophies. Photograph: PA

For the first time since 2007 the Ballon d’Or award has gone to a player other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi - with Luka Modric collecting the golden ball in Paris last night. Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg was named the first winner of the women’s Ballon d’Or, and the biggest controversy of the night came when she was asked by co-host Martin Solveig if she knew how to “twerk”. Meanwhile there were two all-Premier League ties in yesterday’s FA Cup third-round draw, with promoted Wolves hosting high-flying Liverpool, while Bournemouth and Brighton will clash on the south coast.

The Heineken Champions Cup returns this weekend, and in his column this morning, Gerry Thornley explains why these are the defining European rounds: “Over the last 10 seasons, going back to Leinster’s first Heineken Cup success in the 2008-09 season, of the 80 teams who have qualified from the pool stages for the quarter-finals, 73 of them have emerged from these double headers with at the very least a better head-to-hear record over the two matches.”

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