Winning World Cups, Champions Leagues and domestic titles….that’s what football is all about the top level.
But a bit of personal recognition is always nice, and that’s why you suspect that many of the world’s finest players have one eye on social media and news channels when the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or is announced.
This famous old French trophy recognises the best player of the year, according to the judges, based on a variety of criteria.
It’s a subjective vote, rather than one that can be substantiated by objectivity, but a large number of football journalists vote for the winner and so there is some clear consensus as to who has been the best player on the planet for the past 12 months.
Former winners include Alfredo Di Stefano, Johann Cruyff, Michel Platini and Michael van Basten – this is not a prize to be sniffed at.
For the past decade, the Ballon d’Or has been shared by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with five wins apiece, but in 2018 there could be a new name on the trophy.
|Year||Ballon d’Or Winner||Ballon d’Or Runner-Up|
|2008||Cristiano Ronaldo||Lionel Messi|
|2009||Lionel Messi||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|2010||Lionel Messi||Andres Iniesta|
|2011||Lionel Messi||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|2012||Lionel Messi||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|2013||Cristiano Ronaldo||Lionel Messi|
|2014||Cristiano Ronaldo||Lionel Messi|
|2015||Lionel Messi||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|2016||Cristiano Ronaldo||Lionel Messi|
|2017||Cristiano Ronaldo||Lionel Messi|
The Ballon d’Or betting odds hint at something of a surprise winner….
Modric Magic Outmanoeuvres the Big Two
It was always going to take something extraordinary for the Ballon d’Or to be wrestled away from Messi and Ronaldo, but in Luka Modric world football finally has a contender to their undisputed crown.
The mini midfield marvel has been a revelation all year-long, helping to guide Real Madrid to another Champions League triumph and captaining little old Croatia to a first ever World Cup final.
Better still, the former Tottenham man does with it class an grace in abundance – others could learn a lot about how he conducts himself on the pitch.
Modric scored some key penalties for the Croats in Russia, and his general performances – taking games by the scruff of the neck almost single-handedly, confirms he is well deserving of the prize.
The 33-year-old was recognised as the Footballer of the Year at the recent FIFA Awards, telling those in attendance: “It’s a great honour and a beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy.
“This trophy is not just mine, it’s for all my Real Madrid teammates, for all my teammates from the Croatia national team, for all the coaches that I have played for.
“Without them this would not be possible, and thank you a lot to them.”
He may just need to extend that shelf for his trophies, as the bookies have him in as short as 1/2 to win the Ballon d’Or 2018.
Less than Vintage for Messi & CR7
An early exit from the World Cup and those lurid assault allegations….2018 has been a year to forget for Cristiano Ronaldo.
He added another Champions League title to his haul, but a move to Juventus has a feeling of a player, not getting any younger, who fancied a switch to a slower style of football in Italy. Will he ever dazzle on the European stage again?
And as for Lionel Messi, well, he helped Barcelona to recapture the La Liga title.
But all those problems for Argentina at the World Cup – including rumours of a player strike against coach Jorge Sampaoli that allegedly saw Messi pick the team for their final match against France – leave a sour taste in the mouth.
The diminutive Argentine shows no signs of slowing down – he’s scored eleven goals in nine La Liga and Champions League matches so far in 2018/19, and so he will have one eye on regaining the Ballon d’Or next autumn.
But right now, neither he nor Ronaldo hold any appeal in the betting market for this year’s edition.