2018 would prove to be an important one in the football mythology. With Argentina and Portugal out of the World Cup and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo more or less failed to impress the football fans around the world with their performances, 2018 could become an year when the Argentinian and the Portuguese would stoop occupying the throne of the “World’s Best Player”.
Both Argentina and Portugal have faced opponents who have been very well prepared for the World Cup. In the like of Jorge Sampaoli, the Gauchos have had a manager, who has completely failed to put a good team together. Argentina’s coach have failed to give a satisfactory explanation of why he’d left the Serie A top goalscorer Mauro Icardi out of the squad and why he didn’t find a place in the starting eleventh for Paulo Dybala, a brilliant offensive player who would have helped a lot the toothless Argentinians. Sampaoli’s control over the team has been questioned multiple times and he has been accused of being submissive to Lionel Messi and of transferring the decision-making process about the team management and those who play to Messi.
Unlike Argentina, the Portuguese team has had the composure and the strength to go to the quarter-finals, should they have been a little bit lucky or should they have played against a team of lower quality than Uruguay. The Uruguayans impressed with organization, tactical discipline and strong defence. They have left much many open spaces for Ronaldo and his teammates, and were very fast when they went into attacked. Edison Cavani who usually misses a lot of chances in front of the goal in his club, has been perfect in the game against Portugal, scoring two brilliant goals out of two chances.
Portugal were close to draw the game after Uruguay went 2:1 up and were a bit unlucky that they were unable to score an equalizer. However, they were not the better team in this “Word Cup last 16” clash. They have played against an Uruguayan side who showed determination to progress as far as they could and demonstrated they have enough quality in the team to do so.
Who will be the Ballon d’Or winner?
The first thing to be said is that it is very likely that neither Lionel Messi, nor Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the award this year. Messi wagon Laliga with Barcelona, while Ronaldo won the Champions League with Real Madrid, by this time those trophies are simply not enough for any of them to win another Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo and Messi have made the Ballon d’Or competition a two-horse race after 2007, when Brazilian Kaka won it. Both shared 10 awards in between them, each of the winning five – Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and Lionel Messi in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Last year Cristiano Ronaldo deserved to win the award after he has won La Liga, Champions League and the Spanish Super Cup with Real Madrid. This year both Ronaldo and Messi aren’t that close to winning the award and it looks like that there would be a new Ballon d’Or winner. Who would win?
Neymar has want the French Ligue 1. If Brazil wins the World Cup in Russia and if Neymar scores the most important goals and makes significant contribution to the his squad he is the most likely Ballon d’Or winner. Why? The main reason is that he is an international football celebrity and has a huge commercial value. The sporting press and many of the journalists who choose the Ballon d’Or winner tend to account not just the football qualities, but a number of other things – global influence of the player, the social media buzz and more. So Neymar just need to give the press some arguments and he will be awarded with the Golden Ball.
Neymar’s compatriot is currently one of the hottest properties in the world football. Coutinho rose to prominence in Liverpool, before his move to Barcelona. He has spent only half of the season 2017/18 in Camp Nou, but Barcelona won the La Liga title and he has credentials to win the Golden Ball. Should he has stayed in Liverpool he would have played in the Champions League final and this would have increased the Reds chance to win the trophy. If this would have happened Coutinho would be in the main contender for the Ballon d’Or award. Now, it is very likely that Coutinho would be out-shined by Neymar unless he scores some brilliant goals, which would bring the World Cup to Brazil. In order to win Ballon d’Or award, Coutinho must be outstanding during the Word Cup’s direct eliminations and to be recognized as the driving force behind any likely Brazilian success.
Suarez is probably the most underrated world football star. he should have won the Ballon d’Or award at least once since 2014 when he moved from Liverpool to Barcelona. The uruguayan has an impressive goal scoring record with Barcelona. He has netted 100 time in 130 games he played for the Catalan team. This accounts at 0.846 goals per game, an achievement which is close to Lionel Messi’s 0.916 goals per game. In season 2015/16 Suarez has scored 40 goals in all competitions for the Catalans and won the European Golden Shoe, becoming the first player different from Messi and Ronaldo to win the award since 2009. This was the year when deserved and he would have been awarded the Ballon d’Or.
Unfortunately for Suarez, Real Madrid won the Champions League and Cristiano Ronaldo has been given the award despite that his achievement on the final won by Los Blancos on penalty shoutouts, was limited only to scoring the last penalty. This has probably been one of the unfairest Ballon d’Or voting in the last 20 years where the national team captains, national team coaches and sporting journalists ultimately failed to choose the football player with the most significant achievements and left Luis Suares out of the top 3 Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann. Ronaldo still would have received a major boost by the fact that he has helped Portugal to win Euro 2016.
Now in 2018, Luis Suarez have won the La Liag title netting 25 goals and making 12 assistances. Should he help Uruguay reaching the World Cup finals and hopefully winning the tournament, he would be the most likely Ballon d’Or winner.
Suarez compatriot riot and fellow striker Edinson Cavani has been instrumental to Uruagway’s win over Portugal in the Word Cup’s “Round – last 16”. Uruguay has been dragged to play France in the Quarter-finals and Cavani is a major doubt for this fixture after he has picked up a hamstring injury against Portugal.
In 2018 he has become Paris Saint-GErmain’s all time goal scorer netting his 157 goals in his 229 appearances for the French club. Like Suarez he would be one of the lively Ballon d’Or contenders, should he keeps playing on the World Cup and helps Uruguay to go all the way to the finals and eventually win it.
The talented French youngster is one of the most expensive football player and the rising start of the game. He has contributed a lot to the France 4:2 virtory over Argentina. In fact he has been instrumental to the French success to the point that his team might have drawn or lost the game if Mbappe hasn’t score twice. The youngster can rise to prominence during the knock-out stages of the Word Cup and if he scores few more important goals to present France with the World Cup, he would win Ballon d’Or. Why not? Everyone loves success stories and both experts and the fans would be happy to crown the 19-year old PSG striker as world’s best player, should he deserves that in the World Cup.
Griezmann has not impressed that much so far during the World Cup, but considering his qualities and the fact that France are a very solid team which is one of the favorites to win the tournament, he has good chance to be in the Ballon d’Or top 3 at the end of the year. In order to win the award, like any other contender Griezmann needs to score goals and make significant contribution to France’s eventual Word Cup win.
If he he score few important goals during the World Cup and if his contribution in the final game is crucial for the French win, he would be the Golden Ball winner. His credentials fro the award will be heavily supported by the 2 goals Griezmann scored (in 21st and 49th minute) in the UEFA Europa League final, won by his club Atletico Madrid.
Madrid would be an unlikely winner of the Ballon d’Or award, but not if he leads Croatian team to glory in the World Cup. He has enough credentials as he is one of the most gifted midfielders in the world football and he has already helped Real Madrid to win the 2017/18 Champions League. A Croatian success in the world cup, supported by some Modric goals and a significant contribution to the his national team, would present him with a place in the Golden Ball top 3 nominees. Who know. he might even win it!?
Harry Kane didn’t win anything, but so England did. Within the last 20 years England’s national team has never been good enough to go to World Cup’s finals and to win it. Qualifying for the finals doesn’t seem to happen to the England team in the Word Cup 2018 either. However, the England are definitely better that they were in any of the last few major tournaments and Kane looks to be in-from and is a both captain and a leader of the team. If England achieve anything on the World Cup 2018, it is very likely that he would be the one to score the most goals. This would secure him a place in the Ballon d’Or top 3. Should England become world champions for the first time after 1966 and if Kane becomes the tournament’s leading goal scorer, he would win the Golden Ball.
Mo Salah has had an impressive season in Liverpool, but he has been quite unfortunate in May and June 2018. First a horrible tackle by Sergio Ramos robbed him the opportunity to play 90 minutes in the Champions League final, where he would have helped Liverpool to win it. Then despite recovering for the World Cup, Sarah missed the Egypts opening game, which his team mates has been unlucky to loose after Jose Gimenez scored the winner for Uruguay in 89th minute. Then Egypt lost 1:3 to Russia and 1:2 to Saudi Arabia. Sarah played in both games but failed to help his team to win, despite scoring two goals – one against Russia and one against the Saudis.
Ballon d’Or award is usually presented in December and in theory Salah has a chance wither to win it or to enter the top 3, should he repents the same form in Liverpool he has had in season 2017/18. It looks unlikely that he’d win the award, however.