Finally, the Ballon D’Or has come home to roast but not without its’ attending controversies. With some pundits opining that the awards should have gone to some other people apart from the eventual winners. The FIFA Balon D’Or, Coach of the year and FIFA XI PRO, the controversies seem without end. If you need a break on soccer you might want to bet on the super bowl if not you can continue with the midst of the raging controversy, I have my own take and here it is
The FIFA Balon D’OR went to the hot favourite, Argentine Barcelona forward Lionel Messi who won the award for the record fourth time and doing it in style by winning it consecutively. Ahead of the awards, pundits and bet on super bowl felt Ronaldo or Iniesta should win at least, to stop the Argentine from ‘customizing’ the award after all, they also had a good year in their own rights; Ronaldo won the La Liga while Iniesta won the Euro 2012 besides winning the Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, World Club Cup and Copa Del Rey alongside Messi. While all that is a valid argument, I ask, how can a player that scored 91 goals for club and country in a single year and 81 goals for club also in a season be overlooked? He smashed the goal scoring record of Gerd Muller that had stood four decades. I know it is quite frustrating to be so good to bag an award but yet miss out on it just because someone else is visibly better. As sad as that is, it is the tale of Ronaldo and Iniesta. We should be careful not to mix sentiments with quality. The award is for the best player in the world in a year and not for the second best player in the world owing to the desire to stop a player from winning it as many times consecutively. If Ronaldo and Iniesta want to win the award, let them step up their game and try to dislodge the visible best that Messi is.
Another category that generated so much bickering was the selection of the FIFA XI PRO. The FIFA team of the year was drawn from the pool of only one league, Spanish LA Liga. With Barcelona and Real Madrid supplying 10 players and Athletico Madrid providing the remaining one. According to FIFA, the team of the year is made up of Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Pique (Barcelona), Ramos ( Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi ( Barcelona) , Iniesta (Barcelona), Messi (Barcelona), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Falcao (Athletico Madrid). These players are to play in a 4-3-3 formation.
The argument is that how come the Premier League and Italian Serie A couldn’t produce a single player at least, after all the leagues produced the European champions (Chelsea) and unbeaten league champions (Juventus). One thing worthy of note but that fans have glossed over is the fact that a player might be good in his league but there could be a better player from another league that would edge him out. Such is the tale of some Premier League and Serie A stars that could have made the team.
Robin Van Persie could have made the list after last season’s heroics that saw him capture the Premier League golden boot having scored 30 league goals and 38 in all competitions but who would he dislodge in the attacking trio of Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao? Van Persie should have dislodged Falcao in the attack owing to the fact that he outscored the Columbian last season for club. While he scored 38 goals, Falcao scored 36 goals in all competitions for Atheltico Madrid.
Andre Pirlo who galvanized the Old Lady to the Serie A title without a single loss was also a ‘surprised’ exclusion from the team. The Italian midfield maestro is a talented footballer but unfortunate to be competing for space with Spanish star Xavi Hernandez. Both players play the same role. The Barcelona man tower above him and proved it when Spain humiliated Italy at the Euro 2012 finals.
On the argument that Chelsea been European champions should have produced some players, I don’t quite agree. Chelsea won the Champions League quite right but most of their players are not at par with the other stars from other clubs. The only ones that could have made the team from the Chelsea set-up of last season were Cech and Ivanovic. Cech had an outstanding Champions League run but his not too convincing showing at the Euro 2012 swung the pendulum in Casillas’ favour, the Spaniard conceded just a goal enroute winning the trophy. I believe Ivanovic should have edged Dani Alves in the right back position. The Serbian star was in stunning form as the Blues conquered Europe, defending and chipping in his own fair share of goals.
I also believe that Yaya Toure and Kompany should have edged Xabi Alonso and Pique. Yaya Toure just like Alonso won the league and was very pivotal to Manchester City’s triumph chipping in a handful of goals. Yaya scored 9 goals and created 9 assists while Alonso scored only 2 goals and created 10 assists for his teammates. Ditto for Kompany who was a defensive rock as the Citizens edged out bitter rivals in the Premier League race, Pique didn’t have too good a season.
For the coach of the year, there isn’t much controversy as Vicente Del Bosque ran away with the award. Albeit am rather surprised that it was Jose Mourinho that came second as against Pep Guardiola. In the year under review, Del Bosque led Spain to the successful defence of their European title while Guardiola led the Blaugrana to four titles (Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, World Club Cup and Copa Del Rey) and Mourinho led the Los Blancos to the Spanish La Liga. Winning the European championship is a feat which catapults Del Bosque into a class of his own but Guardiola edged out Mourinho simply on the grounds of winning more titles in the season under review. Mourinho might have won the La Liga but it was just one trophy while Guardiola might have won the Copa Del Rey but it was one of four trophies.
Well, the award has come and gone but the dust it raised might take some time to settle. FIFA have had their way but for a long time, fans and pundits alike would have their say. I have had mine and you can also have yours by adding a comment to this piece. Cheers.