Connect in the back of the net

The Ballon d’Or is a prestigious award which illustrates the greatest player of the past 12 months.

Surely an award any football player would like to win, this year’s Ballon d’Or is judged solely by a panel of journalists after FIFA and France Football parted ways.

Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to regain the title following his impressive year as he won the Champions League and captained Portugal to Euro 2016 glory a few months later, it’s clear to see why Real Madrid may not need any new signings.

If Ronaldo does regain the Ballon d’or, it would mean over the last 8 years the winner has either been Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

When the first 10 nominees were announced, it struck me that there was only one Defender, Diego Godin.

The Ballon d’Or prize has been dominated by attacking players throughout its history and you would have to go back to 2006 to find the last defender to win the award who was Fabio Cannavaro and Franz Beckenbauer prevailed twice in the 1970s.

Now the full 30-man shortlist has been published, there are only three Defenders.

 

The full list of nominees

  • Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
  • Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
  • Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
  • Diego Godín (Atlético Madrid)
  • Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid)
  • Gonzalo Higuaín (Juventus)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)
  • Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
  • Koke (Atlético Madrid)
  • Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
  • Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
  • Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
  • Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
  • Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)
  • Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
  • Neymar (Barcelona)
  • Dimitri Payet (West Ham United)
  • Pepe (Real Madrid)
  • Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
  • Rui Patrício (Sporting)
  • Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
  • Luis Suárez (FC Barcelona)
  • Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
  • Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich)

I have no doubts that picking the 30 nominees is a hard task as there are so many quality players who deserve to be on there.

Eden Hazard’s omission is justifiable due to a very poor 2015 but Mesut Özil could have easily been picked, but didn’t putting him in the starting 11 of noticeable players not listed.

 

Are Defenders appreciated in the modern game?

Silly questions, of course defenders are appreciated and in fact, having a quality defence could be more important than a top striking partnership.

There’s no coincidence that all the top teams throughout the years have had some of the best defences at the time (Brazil being an exception).

The defenders set the tone for the team and are usually the captains of the side but is that enough?

Goals are one of the main components that makes football exciting, seeing a host of top quality goals is what gets fans excited.

Football highlights rarely showcase the defensive end of the game but some defenders benefit from this.

Sergio Ramos is a good defender but has been elevated to world class status by his ability to score important goals and less for his actual defensive skills.

 

Will another Defender win the Ballon d’or?

You essentially have 3 main positions and 4 players in defence at left back, centre back and right back.

There are few that can play all positions in defence but Philipp Lahm is certainly one of them.

Diego Godin, Giorgio Chiellini, Sergio Ramos, David Alaba and Gerard Pique to name a few, are some of the best defenders in the world.

The fact that Leonardo Bonucci who is easily one of the best centre backs in the world, isn’t even on the 30-man shortlist after his impressive performances with Juventus and Italy and being named in the ‘team of the tournament’ at Euro 2016 is baffling to say the least.

 

Possible future winners

The French trio of Kurt Zouma, Aymeric Laporte and Raphaël Varane; Luke Shaw, Jose Maria Gimenez and Jonathan Tah to name a few are all very good, young defenders who have the potential to reach the highest levels in football.

To win this prestigious award it seems you must do exceptionally well not only for your club but for your country (even if Ronaldo’s involvement with Portugal was minimal at the Euros), but there is no reason a top-class defender cannot win the award.

 

Written by Jonathan Roberts

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @missingstuds

Check out his awesome football blog, Missing Studs Football

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