2008 FIFA World Player award profiles
Few players in world football polarise opinion like Cristiano Ronaldo but despite his occasional theatrics and petulance his ability to influence matches is undisputed.
The Portuguese winger is blessed with strength, pace, aerial ability and savage shooting power and he invariably delivers when it matters most -- his magnificent header in last season's Champions League final a prime example.
He arrived at Manchester United just as David Beckham was leaving but he was no straight replacement. While Beckham was all precision passing and energy, Ronaldo has more tricks up his sleeve than a circus magician.
His initial tendency to over-indulge his exhibitionist personality with endless stepovers has gradually receded over the years at Old Trafford and last season he turned into a ruthless scoring machine.
An extraordinary tally of 42 goals propelled United to the Champions League and Premier League double and earned him a place in United folklore alongside George Best.
Factor in the amount of goals he created and it is no wonder United fans were relieved that the Madeira-born genius opted to stay in England this season rather than join Real Madrid.
Liverpool supporters have taken El Nino to their hearts since he made the move from Atletico Madrid to Anfield in 2007 for around 20 million pounds.
They have witnessed many great goalscorers down the years with Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish high on the list. The stealthy Torres has a bit of both of them about his game.
The Spaniard has all the gifts of a thoroughbred striker -- pace, poise and a dead-eye shot -- but is also capable of linking players and retaining possession.
Importantly he has also proved he can survive the hurly burly of English football and handle the rough treatment dished out routinely by opposing defenders, a quality that earns him respect among fans of all clubs in England.
He scored 24 league goals in a sensational first season with Liverpool, a new record for a foreign striker in his debut season. He then went off to Austria and Switzerland and scored Spain's winner against Germany in the final of Euro 2008.
This season has been interrupted by injuries but if Torres stays fit between now and May, Liverpool could be celebrating a first league title for nearly 20 years.
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez capped a victorious Euro 2008 campaign with Spain by being named UEFA's player of the tournament back in June.
The 28-year-old was a vital cog in Spain's much-praised midfield and was recognised for the touch, control and distribution that was central to the smooth operation of their brand of attacking football.
He laid on the pass for Fernando Torres to score the winner in the 1-0 final victory over Germany.
Xavi is a product of the Barcelona youth system - a club he joined at the age of 11 -- and in December was rewarded with a contract extension which will keep him wi