Ron­aldo 2nd, Messi 5th

Soccer Laduma - - Siyag Bhoza -

Why are we still sur­prised by Modric’s win?

We all knew this day would come; we all knew that the great ri­valry be­tween Messi and Ron­aldo, which has given us so much joy, so many talking points, so many goals and count­less records to en­joy, would even­tu­ally come to an end at some point. How­ever, not many of us ex­pected it to be ended by a 33-year-old. Play­ers such as Ney­mar and Kylian Mbappe were con­sid­ered the next big su­per­star in foot­ball. Per­haps even An­toine Griez­mann was in with a shout, but not many would have imag­ined Modric re­plac­ing Ron­aldo when he was an­nounced as the 2017 win­ner of the award at the top of the Eif­fel Tower a year ago.

Modric achieved some­thing great mid­field­ers such as An­dres Ini­esta and Xavi Her­nan­dez could not– switch the focus of the award jury from at­tack to mid­field, from goals to con­trol, from records to lead­er­ship. Yes, we could ar­gue that Ron­aldo and Messi have both scored 45 goals this cal­en­dar year so far, while Modric has net­ted only three times. But in all the years Messi or Ron­aldo won the Ballon d’Or, we ar­gued that goals were be­ing val­ued too much when it came to de­cid­ing who the best player was. We have seen count­less ar­gu­ments for Ini­esta in 2010 or Xavi in 2009 and 2011, and won­dered why Fabio Can­navaro was the last de­fender to lift the award in 2006, or why the great Lev Yashin is, to date, the only goal­keeper to win the Ballon d’Or back in 1963. So why do we now want the focus to be shifted back to goals?

The fact is, the ma­jor­ity of France Foot­ball’s 180- jury mem­bers voted for Modric to be awarded the Ballon d’Or, the ma­jor­ity of na­tional team coaches and cap­tains voted for Modric to lift FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player ac­co­lade in Septem­ber and the ma­jor­ity of the 80 coaches of clubs in the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League and UEFA Europa League, along with 55 jour­nal­ists, had al­ready awarded Modric the UEFA Player of the Year ac­co­lade ear­lier in the year. Modric be­came the first Croa­t­ian to lift all three awards and surely de­serves world­wide recog­ni­tion in 2018.

France Foot­ball also an­nounced the fi­nal rank­ing of the 2018 Ballon d’Or vot­ing, with Modric re­ceiv­ing 753 points. That’s just three points less than what Ron­aldo and Messi com­bined achieved this year. Re- mem­ber, the 180-jury mem­bers all voted for their favourites, giv­ing their first choice six points, sec­ond four, third three, fourth two and fifth one point. In the end, all points were added up, with Modric re­ceiv­ing 753 – 277 more points than Ron­aldo. The Ju­ven­tus striker fin­ished in sec­ond po­si­tion with 476 points, while Griez­mann com­pleted the podium with 414 points. Kylian Mbappe, who won the in­au­gu­ral Kopa Trophee for the best young player in 2018, ended in fourth po­si­tion with 347 points, while Messi fin­ished in fifth place with 280 points. While Ron­aldo fin­ished on the podium for a record 12th time, Messi ended up out­side the top three for the first time since 2006. Mo­hamed Salah was the high­est- ranked African in this year’s edi­tion af­ter be­ing voted into sixth po­si­tion with 188 points. Last year’s third- placed fi­nal­ist Ney­mar dropped from the podium to 12th po­si­tion, re­ceiv­ing only 19 points this time around. Mean­while, Olympique Lyon striker Ada Hegerberg won the in­au­gu­ral Women’s Ballon d’Or.

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