Ronaldo 2nd, Messi 5th
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.