The Men's Ballon d'Or Lost All Its Credibility

The Men's Ballon d'Or Lost All Its Credibility

This year's men's Ballon d'Or edition was probably one of the closest, and most controversial ceremonies in all of sports in the recent years.

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This year's men's Ballon d'Or edition was probably one of the closest, and most controversial ceremonies in all of sports in the recent years. Part of the reason why that is, is because for the first time in the past ten years someone who is not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo won the prestigious award.

However, the fact that Luka Modric was awarded the Ballon d'Or over the likes of Messi and Ronaldo does not bother me nor its the sole reason that made this award ceremony controversial. To be completely fair, Luka Modric had an astounding year and there was no question he had a legitimate claim to the award. Modric made invaluable contributions to both his club and country, winning the UEFA Champions League and leading a highly underrated Croatian national side to an almost unimaginable second place finish in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Despite playing in a position (central midfield) where being statistically notable is extremely difficult, Modric still managed to do visible impacts on the field.

He changed the course of many games with his elegance, touch, work rate and ability to find open spaces. Nevertheless, what made this award ceremony truly outrageous and ludicrous was not the fact that he won, but rather that there was one player who won almost everything there is to win both individually and collectively, and yet somehow he was not even included in the top 3, nor the top 4 finishers for that matter. Yeap, that's right, that player is Lionel Messi.

Let me be clear, for the longest time Lionel Andres Messi has been the best and most dominant force on a football pitch and this past year was no different. Every-time he walked out the locker rooms and stepped on the pitch, his presence was instantly felt by fans, players and coaches all around the world. Every touch he took seemed magical and mind-boggling. He scored, assisted, passed, and created chances at a higher rate than any other player on the planet but somehow was still not included in the top 3 players in the world last year. Sadly, I believe I know why that is, but before I share what the reason behind him not finishing in the top 3, let's lay something down. According to the Rules of Allocation, FIFA bestows the award "according to on-field performance and overall behaviour on and off the pitch." Given this definition, let's analyze what Messi did last year so you can figure out for yourself whether he deserved a spot in the top 3 or not.

As of December 8th, 2018, Messi has recorded 47 goals and 23 assists in 51 games. In 2018 he was the player who created the most chances in the world, the fastest player to score 100 Champions League goals and also became the Champions League all-time top scorer in the group stages. Messi also won the most "Man of the Match" awards (MOTM), the domestic double (La Liga and Copa Del Rey), the European Golden Boot, La Liga's MVP award, and both La Liga's top scorer and top assist provider awards. In short, besides not winning the Champions League and the World Cup, he almost won it all. Now, after reading this you may think "wow, how did he not make the top 3?" and to answer this question I have found a plausible answer made up by three points, which from my perspective, combined and ended up plotting against him.

One, the France Football committee decided to unjustly put more weight on 3-7 games from the World Cup than to all of the other 50-ish games he played throughout the year (which should definitely describe better how a player performs throughout the WHOLE year). Two, the committee is not judging the award based on pure individual proficiency. And three, the election committee is spoilt by Messi's brilliance. What I mean by "spoilt" is that Messi has been playing exceptionally well for so long to the point that other players, fans, and the France Football committee have unconsciously set higher standards for him to meet, rather than the ones they set for all the other players. For example, if you looked at the Ballon d'Or's final results, you'll notice that Antoine Griezmann was ranked above Messi by a significant margin (voting wise) and was included in the top 3. However, if you watched both editions of La Liga and the Champions League this past year (2017/2018), you probably noticed that Griezmann did nothing that could possibly compare to Messi's deeds. Atletico failed to qualify for the round of 16 in the Champions League, and finished second in La Liga behind Barcelona. Individually, Griezmann was not even close to playing on Messi's level and even though he did have a really good season, winning the World Cup with France, and the Europa League with "Los Colchoneros", these should have not been good enough reasons to justify his higher rank during the ceremony. Nonetheless, due to the fact that he won the World Cup and happened to be a pretty good player, the committee decided to rank him above Messi. This perfectly displays how the election committee set the expectations bar far lower for players who typically do not perform as well and it also shows how the Ballon d'Or is NO longer an individual award. Griezmann clearly underperformed in comparison to Messi but because he performed relatively well and won one trophy that was more important than the ones Messi won, he was ranked higher. All this leads me to believe that it was not Griezmann's individual talent or performances that got him the 3rd place in the voting, but rather it was the trophies both of his teams got. Under this logic, any player who performs well above his usual level (but not nearly as well as Messi) and wins a major piece of silverware, should have been ranked higher than Messi. In fact, following up with these standards, Messi might never win a Ballon d'Or again because I do not think he can perform any better than he is right now (because he is already something out of this world), which means he won't be able to raise the bar the French Football committee want him to raise so bad; and winning major trophies is not something only he can control. There are 10 other players in the field and a manager that contribute to winning a major trophy and Messi has not had a lot of luck with that lately, especially when looking at the massively underperforming Argentinian national team. Therefore, this lack of objectivity and judgement, courtesy of the French Football committee, took away this year's Men's Ballon d'Or's credibility. Sadly, Messi not ending in the top 5 may steal the spotlight Modric rightfully deserves, but at the same time, it will make the world open their eyes and see how undervalued Messi was this year after having given us, the fans, so much. I just hope Modric, does not go down in history as the Shevchenko or Michael Owen of our generation due to these controversial results, because like I said before, he deserved to win the prestigious trophy even though he was not on the top of my list.

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Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things." Mother Teresa
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Some teams just cannot seem to get it together. They may have all the talent in the world, but can’t win a game. Usually it’s due to their lack of togetherness; everyone is not on the same page. Playing for the same team does NOT necessarily make you a team.

We have all heard the expression “teamwork makes the dream work.” The expression means a team must have a common goal, a dream, and work together to achieve it. Everyone cannot be doing their own thing and expecting good results. Each member of a team has a role, and for the team to be truly successful, each person must put their own needs and desires aside for the betterment of the team. Basically, do what you can for your team.

Every player is important and needs to bring something to the table. Each individual player has to figure out what their role is. Some roles are bigger than others, but every role is important. If you are just a practice player, your role is to push the game players harder. The harder you work, the harder they have to work. Push yourself to get better while also pushing them to improve. If players are only worried about themselves, they are not doing what is best for the team. A team needs unity. The saying “you are only as good as your weakest player” is a great way to put it. If one person is struggling on the team, it is up to the other players to build them up and pick up the slack in the meantime. We have all had a bad game, so remember that when it is one of your teammates. Encourage them and do whatever you can to help them out. Most of the time, encouraging words goes the furthest. Tell them it is okay, and do not give up on them.

Teams need to understand and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, a good quarterback knows which players can make certain catches. In basketball, a good point guard knows how to create an open shot for a good shooter. In soccer, a good midfielder will know when to send a long ball over the top. They know if their player is capable of outrunning the defense. Knowing your teammates and their abilities is so important. Sure, you push one another, but you are also realistic. If someone does mess up, do not be quick to judge or criticize either. If a teammate makes a mistake or you see something they need to work on, be the player that works with them, not the one that blames them or makes them feel worse about their shortcomings. Putting others down for mistakes NEVER helps anyone or anything either. It actually just makes you look like a jerk for yelling or blaming them. If you are a team captain or leader, this goes double for you. You should be the one building a team up, not tearing it down. Be a good representative to the team by setting a good example. Work harder in games, stay later after practice, encourage players having an off game, strengthen the weakest player, and be the one uniting the team. You are not the coach, so do not think it is your position to boss everyone around. Be a good leader, and a good leader leads by example. They don’t work less; they work more and much harder. Leaders help resolve conflict, not start it. They do not point the finger, but rather take fault. Believe it or not, it is NOT always the best players that are the captains or team leaders. The best team leaders are players with experience, patience, and a good work ethic. They are good at building people up and helping everyone get better and stronger.

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Ronaldinho: A Gift From The Soccer Gods

It was always exciting to see him wearing that iconic number 10 on his back.

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Watching soccer over the years, I think as fans we have been fortunate to see transcendent talents like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. As great as they are, I don't know if I could ever say they were my favorite players to follow all the time. Its kind of like both Messi and Ronaldo have become the generic response for anyone who briefly talks about soccer because of their reputation and popularity. Similar to how Michael Jordan is well known in basketball or Tiger Woods is thought of in golf. The player I always admired to watch growing up was definitely the magnificent talent that was Ronaldinho.

Growing up seeing someone like Ronaldinho play soccer was out of this world. He had skill moves that would make your jaw drop. Just the way he'd be able to move the ball and place it in areas unreal to the naked eye was pure entertainment. Ronaldinho had balance, elegance, and swagger every time he stepped onto the field. He is one of only seven players to have ever won a FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League title and a Ballon d'Or award. Honestly, it has not been the same since he left the beautiful game back in 2015. Sure, he wasn't the greatest player to ever live or the most prestigious, but I would say Ronaldinho was certainly iconic.

He was a spectacle for the soccer world and I don't think there will be any other player quite like him to be on a pitch ever again. Brazil has been able to produce legends over the years like Pele, Kaka, and Ronaldo. Ronaldinho is definitely one of the athletes on my bucket list to meet someday. His legacy will forever be cemented as one of the greats in my book.

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