By Tim Stannard
1) Ronaldo set to become FIFA’s Best
Well, thank you Lords of Football for giving the world the opportunity for squabbling like six-year-olds over a My Little Pony doll, twice in a month.
Instead of one ‘Big Bestest Player in the World Ever’ award, the split between FIFA and France Football, sees both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA The Best awards now taking place side-by-side. Double trouble. Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the former in December, and is expected to grab the second in a ceremony in Zurich on Monday.
In fact, so confident are Barcelona that Leo Messi won’t be lifting the newly-constructed trinket that none of the Barcelona players will be attending the ceremony, instead supposedly focusing on Wednesday’s Copa del Rey clash against Athletic Bilbao, after another flat performance against Villarreal on Sunday. Probably a big topic of conversation for The Locker Room from 7:30PM ET / 4:30PM PT. And will it be enough to win the weekend between Team Messi and Team Ronaldo? Find out on the XTRA at 7:00PM ET / 4:00PM PT.
2) 48-team World Cup on cards
Continuing on a FIFA theme, the organization is set to upset an awful lot of people – mainly in Europe – by announcing on Tuesday that the World Cup is going to be expanded to a whopping 48-teams from 2026 onwards.
Five options are to be voted on by a panel of august experts, including staying with the exact same number of 32 or a mammoth 48-country affair consisting of 16 groups of three.
3) Barça dismiss Rakitic transfer rumors
A whole gaggle of transfer stories has rolled in like a wave of speculation after the weekend. The biggest and most implausible has Ivan Rakitic moving to Manchester City after falling out of favor in the Barcelona world. But it was a rumor dismissed by Luis Enrique himself, ruining all the fun.
The agent of Carlos Bacca has said that his client will be staying in Milan for the rest of the season and not joining the throng in China. However, former Real Madrid defender, Ricardo Carvalho, has given in to temptation and signed for Shanghai SIPG. And Didier Drogba to Marseille, anyone? Tune into the XTRA from 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the latest Transfer Tracker gossip and done deals.
4) Valencia in race to La Liga’s rock bottom
In fact, there is so much transfer nonsense on Monday that Sports Burst is rolling it into a part two, due to the disastrous Valencia trying to save the remaining tatters of their season by bringing in both Simone Zaza and also Jese from PSG. Valencia are currently working with a temporary coach and now a temporary sporting director, after the previous fella, Jesus Garcia Pitarch, quit over the weekend.
5) WTA tennis continues down under
beIN SPORTS continues to be tennis country. Two more WTA tournaments are on the agenda at the world’s best women gear up for the Australian Open. And both are Down Under. Overnight in Hobart, Australia, top seed Kiki Bertens stormed into Round 2 with a swift win over German Annika Beck. Coverage continues on beIN CONNECT from 6PM ET / 4PM PT.
Meanwhile, some big guns are out in force in Sydney, including Carolina Wozniacki and Kiki Bertens who both won through to round 2. Coverage continues live on beIN SPORTS from 8PM ET / 5PM PT.
WHAT IS SPORTS BURST?
The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. SB is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.