It was the moment all the qualifiers had been waiting for. The day after the play-offs for this season's Champions League, the draw for the group stage of the 2019-2020 edition took place at on Thursday evening at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, followed on Friday lunchtime by the draw for the Europa League group stage.
The world's top players were in the Principality on Thursday evening, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Figo, Virgil Van Dijk and others, to the delight of the many fans waiting expectantly outside the Grimaldi Forum. In addition to the Champions League draw, the UEFA player of the year awards were presented during the evening.
Dutch international defender Virgil Van Dijk was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year 2018/2019 for the first time, succeeding Luka Modric. He beat three-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, and two-time winner Lionel Messi. Van Dijk was rock solid throughout the season for Liverpool, and helped the English side to their sixth title as European Champions. He was also named Defender of the Year 2018/19. After a series of virtually flawless performances in his first season with the Reds, the Brazilian 'keeper Alisson Becker was naturally voted Goalkeeper of the Year.
Argentina's Lionel Messi was named Forward of the Year, beating his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the last two editions of this award. Frenkie de Jong was voted Midfielder of the Year, while Lyon right-back Lucy Bronze was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year.
At the draw for the Europa League group stage on Friday, UEFA named Chelsea's Eden Hazard player of the tournament for last year's edition. The Belgian was inspirational in his side's victory, scoring two goals in the final.