Wednesday, November 14, 2018

UEFA Award, FIFA’s Best & Ballon d’Or: Could We Get Three Different Winners of World’s Biggest Individual Prizes?

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Should we have three different winners would be a better question in fact.

Football is a team sport. As such, teams are rewarded for their joint exploits in relevant competitions – both domestic and international.

The season behind us pushed two teams under the spotlight. Real Madrid emerged victorious in the 2017/18 edition of the Champions League whereas it was the French national team that picked up arguably the most valued prizes of them all – the FIFA World Cup trophy.

As we slowly head into the new campaign and toward the end of the year, the time has come for individual awards to be handed to players who have left the biggest mark in the season behind us.

The three most important individual recognitions are:

  • UEFA Best Player in Europe Award
  • The Best FIFA Men’s Player
  • Ballon d’Or

The third one – Ballon d’Or – stands as arguably the most coveted one. First introduced in 1956, the Ballon d’Or merged with FIFA World Player of the Year in 2010. The partnership ended in 2016 and we once again have two separate awards. The breakup of the partnership did little damage to Ballon d’Or reputation, however.

This annual reward honours the male players deemed to have performed best over the previous years. Such a definition can be applied to all three individual competitions but differences exist and can help us in determining the parameters which often leave football fans perplexed in the past.

The notable difference between the oldest prize of the three – Ballon d’Or – and the remaining two is that it takes the whole calendar year into account and not just the last season.

That said, the UEFA Best Player in Europe – although self-explanatory – rewards the best player of a European club from the previous season. It takes into account performances both at the club and national team level. This year’s winner of this prize was Luka Modric.

The Croatia international, arguably the most underappreciated player in the world, was given a well-deserved recognition for last season’s impressive exploits. Two goals and eight assists in club competitions last season do not do justice to a player who is a heart and soul of Real Madrid.  Modric continued his fine form at the FIFA World Cup where he was named the Player of the Tournament after helping Croatia to the historic final. Having picked up the UEFA Player of the Year award, Luka Modric will be hoping to break the Ronaldo-Messi Ballon d’Or duopoly.

But first, we’ll have The Best FIFA Men’s Player award to attend to.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah are once again the three players on the shortlist – just with the UEFA award. Modric’s former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo was unhappy at the UEFA omission and will certainly hope to win it this time around.

Juventus’ summer acquisition scored 44 goals and made 8 assists in 44 appearances last season. The Portuguese won four trophies, including the Champions League and is right to stake the claim for the trophy.

Mohamed Salah could say the same for himself after a sensational season with Liverpool that made him one of the most prolific players in the world. The Egyptian international bagged 44 goals and provided 16 assists in 52 matches, helping Liverpool reach the Champions League final – and getting injured in it.

Now that the numbers are laid out, a question emerges: How is the winner decided?

If we want to talk statistics – number of goals, assists and trophies – there are two players who got omitted from the shortlist but who definitely deserved to be competing for the prize. These are Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

The Barcelona superstar found the back of the net 45 times, amassed 18 assists and lifted three trophies last season. These numbers are enough to put him in front both Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah and yet, Messi has been omitted from the list for the first time in a decade.

As for the French forward Antoine Griezmann, the Atletico Madrid superstar also won three trophies – Europa League, European Super Cup and the World Cup. The total of 23 goals for Atletico in 33 matches and further 4 in 7 matches for France in Russia were simply insufficient.

Needless to say, the player himself was surprised.

The Best FIFA Men’s Player award will be announced on 24 September 2018. Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent has already put plenty of pressure on the media, voters and general football public which could lead to his protégée winning it.

With Ballon d’Or approaching, the Portuguese is a clear-cut favourite at 7/10 to win the most coveted individual trophy. Antoine Griezmann has climbed up the ladder to third and is looking at 5/1 to be rewarded.

Lionel Messi is given a 20/1 shot at the prize and Atletico Madrid defender Felipe Luis is not the only one surprised to see the Argentine superstar being given such a low chance.

“The award is for the best player in the world. For me, today, it’s Messi. Just like in previous years. When he’s not there, it loses credibility. It doesn’t matter who wins the World Cup or the Champions League. He’s the best.”, he told Globoesporte.

In the end, what is it that makes a player BEST in the world?

  • Is it a number of goals, assists? Then no goalkeeper would ever be in contention to win it.
  • Is it a number of trophies won? What is a player did not have a direct hand in winning them?
  • Is it all about the style of play – attractiveness? It definitely has a part.
  • Maybe influence – social or on the team a player is a part of?
  • Is it all about who’s hitting the headlines the most – goals, hairstyles, celebration styles, it’s all the same.

Perhaps it’s all of the above – a combination and a mix of various aspects that persuade voters (in all three competitions it’s coaches, journalists, football legends, fellow players).

What are the parameters you’d follow and who’d be your pick this year?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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