The race for the most prestigious individual award in the world of football is the Ballon d’Or. It has been the benchmark by which fans have measured a player’s solo achievements and their level of gameplay. All of the legends who have played ‘The Beautiful Game’ have won this award one time or the other throughout history, ‘well most of the greats have. There have been multiple players who have won it but the recent decade has seen years of dominance over this award by 2 players: The GOATs Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. These 2 players have dominated the world of football in a way no other player has throughout history.
Since the year 2008 when Cristiano Ronaldo won his first Ballon D’Or, the dominance of the ‘GOAT duo’ began. They have been tremendous since then. Till the year 2017, it was either Lionel Messi or Ronaldo who was on that final stage to receive this award. To date, Lionel Messi has won 6 Ballon D’Or with Cristiano Ronaldo just one behind with 5 Ballon d’Or.
Lionel Messi holds the record for the highest number of Ballon D’Or awards in the history of football.
In 2018 Luka Modric bagged the award and ended the duo trail which had been going on for 10 years only for Lionel Messi to reclaim the award again in the succeeding year.
Last year the award was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The award had Robert Lewandowski’s name written on the award after an amazing season with Bayern Munich. As Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich became the second club ever to win 6 trophies in a season after FC Barcelona’s 2008-09 season.
Though this season’s Ballon D’Or race has not been as one-sided as the last year. There has been no single player who has outperformed in terms of team trophies. But some names have been highlighted for winning this award.
- LIONEL MESSI
Lionel Messi just like always has performed extremely well as an individual. He scored 38 goals and gave 12 assists this season in the FC Barcelona jersey. FC Barcelona has been in a season of turmoil and turbulence since the beginning due to the issues among the team and the issues with the board. The team performed crassly during the first half of the season, but during the second season, they picked up the pace and got back to good form. Alas, they were only able to finish third in the league table.
FC Barcelona was able to secure the Copa Del Rey trophy in a season where no one expected them to even finish in the top 4. Lionel Messi has been crucial in their victories and has been influential even when he didn’t come up on the score sheet.
The club season wasn’t enough for him to even show up as a competitor for the Ballon d’Or. But the tournament with the international team has stirred up the chances. He is now the leading contender to win the award.
Lionel Messi has been phenomenal with Argentina. He has scored 4 goals and has assisted 5 during the competition making him the leading goal scorer as well as the player with the most assists.
He scored 2 amazing and the only free kicks of the tournament. Argentina has qualified for the finals of Copa America where they will be playing against Brazil in a ‘Clasico Del Atlántico’.
All the Lionel Messi fans as well as FC Barcelona fans are pining for Argentina to win the Copa America as they want to see their idol win an international trophy after he been to 4 finals and lost them. A win in the finals against Brazil could cement his chances of winning his 7th Ballon d’Or. I guess we’ll be waiting for the Copa America final to see what will happen.
- CRISTIANO RONALDO
One of the GOATs of the footballing world has not been having a season as good as he would have had expected. He has been carrying Juventus on his back the whole season. If it would have had not been for his goals, Juventus would have been in a worse condition. Despite Ronaldo being the top scorer of Serie A, Juventus barely crept into the top 4 on the last matchday as they qualified for the Champions League next season. If it would have not been for Napoli drawing the last match then Cristiano Ronaldo would have been playing in the Europa League next season with Juventus. He did everything he could have had done to drag the team where it is. Juventus showed poor form in the league and clutched the Scudetto trophy (Cup competition).
The Euros were supposed to be a turn-around for Ronaldo as Portugal had a strong team and were the defending champions. Even after scoring 5 goals for Portugal, they still were made to leave the tournament in the RO16 as Belgium defeated them by a scoreline of 1-0.
The disappointing club season as well as a disappointing International tournament has made the 5 time Ballon D’Or winner’s chance to get a 6th extremely bleak.
- ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
The Bayern Munich striker had a phenomenal season. Robert Lewandowski broke the historic record set by
The Bayern Munich legend, Gerd Muller. He scored 41 goals in league football thus breaking the record of 40 goals scored in a single season. He clinched the trophy of Bundesliga but was knocked out of Champions League this season against PSG in the round of 16.
He was the leading runner in the race of Ballon D’Or, as he had a great season with the club but whenever there had been an international competition, performance and achievements with the international team have always been crucial in bending the waves for the trophy of Ballon d’Or. Being in Poland Lewandowski has never been able to achieve much on the international stage. He has been doing all he can with the international team but collectively Poland has not been much of a team that wins trophies.
Will we see Robert Lewandowski win this award this year?
- KYLIAN MBAPPE
The young budding Paris Saint-Germain starlet, a young player who has been perceived as one of the best players and is predicted to carry the torch of being the best in the world of football alongside Erling Haaland after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo hang up their boots. He has been lethal in front of goal and has scored 27 in Ligue 1 and 8 in UEFA Champions League making him the highest goal scorer in Ligue 1. PSG performed well in the UEFA Champions League as well with Kylian Mbappe giving a good contribution to the team.
His performance with France on the other hand has been drastically opposite. The French national was not as clinical in front of goal as he was with his club. He missed some great chances and has been a source of ridicule for missing out on the penalty shoot-out which eventually led to France’s disqualification from the UEFA Euro 2020.
Earlier he was a strong competitor for the Ballon D’Or but his international form raised several doubts.
Is it too early to hand him the most prestigious an individual player could receive?
- N’GOLO KANTE
The French midfielder and UEFA Champions League winner has been crucial in Chelsea’s success. He has been pivotal as the holding midfielder. N’Golo Kante possesses the stamina to play a 120-minute game with top-notch quality from the first to the last minute. In a match, he can be seen everywhere on the field whether the team is attacking or defending he is always there to contribute. Defending the opposition’s counterattacks, interceptions, and holding the ball has been some of the key qualities of N’Golo Kante.
The UEFA Champions League trophy with Chelsea made him a competitor for the Ballon d’Or. Even though he did not show up much on the score sheet but his influence has been clear as day.
But the progress of France in the UEFA Euro was put to a stop even when they were considered the favourites to win the tournament. As international tournaments have always influenced the results, this disqualification did put a dent in his Ballon D’Or chances. If France would have had secured the trophy of UEFA Euro 2020, his chances would have been pretty high of winning the award.
Chelsea’s Italian Midfielder has been a part of the success story of Chelsea’s Champions League campaign as well as Italy’s UEFA Euro 2020 campaign. Italy is in the Final of UEFA Euro 2020 and has been predicted as the ‘Dark Horse’ following Roberto Mancini’s tactics leading to a 33 match undefeated run after kicking out Spain in a penalty shootout and booking a spot in the Finals.
Jorginho has been a surprise contender.
But do we actually see him holding the Ballon D’Or trophy this year?
International tournaments both Copa America and UEFA Euro 2020 had been tide turners in this race. With just one final match remaining in each competition, the contenders to this award could very well cement their place. They have been neck to neck in this race.
Will we see Lionel Messi win the Copa America and grab a record 7th Ballon d’Or? Will we see a surprise winner to this award? Or will Robert Lewandowski finally get the award that he deserved last year?