Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were desperate to win Fifa Ballon d'Or plus 10 things we learned from the voting

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 13:  FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid with his son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr accepts his award from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Pele during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2013 at the Kongresshalle on January 13, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 13: FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Real Madrid with his son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr accepts his award from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and Pele during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2013 at the Kongresshalle on January 13, 2014 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo walked away with the Fifa Ballon d'Or prize last night, but the focus quickly turned to who had voted for who.

Here, we analyse what we learned...

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were desperate to win

 

There was little argument that the three short-listed players were the right selection. Yet neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi could bring themselves to vote for each other for fear that it could affect their own chances. Ronaldo went for Radamel Falcao, Gareth Bale and Mesut Ozil. Messi selected three Barcelona team-mates - Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar. Ribery was not eligible to vote as he is not the captain of his country.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic emerges with respect

 

Another player always desperate to be recognised for his talents is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Yet he didn't let that, or club or country ties, cloud his judgement, picking Ribery, Messi and Ronaldo in his top three. Classy.

 

Gareth Bale is popular in New Zealand

 

He may be the most expensive player in the world, but that doesn't make him the best. The Welshman picked up 25 votes, in comparison to 413 for eventual winner Ronaldo. He is, however, rather popular in New Zealand. Both captain Winston Reid and coach Ricky Herbert made him their number one choice.

Goakeepers stick together

 

Goalkeepers didn't get much of a look in at the awards. However, Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer did pick up two votes. He was the second pick of France captain and Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris. The other vote came from, er, the Antigua and Barbuda coach Rolston Williams.

 

Roy Hodgson keen to maintain his popularity in Sweden

 

Roy Hodgson is rather popular in Sweden thanks to his successful time as manager of Malmo. And it would appear the England manager wants to keep on good terms as he selected their national team captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic among his three picks. His others went to Ronaldo and Robin van Persie.

 

Steven Gerrard thinks Luis Suarez is great - but not the best

 

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is never shy of lavishing his team-mate Luis Suarez with praise. However, the England captain didn't make him his first choice, instead picking Ronaldo and Messi before him.

 

Vincent Kompany doesn't watch much football

 

Perhaps the strangest selections came from Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany. He picked Ribery, Yaya Toure and Eden Hazard. Perhaps the fact he plays alongside the latter two for club and country respectively had something to do with it - as it did for many of the voters.

 

The best player in the world was not so obvious for some

 

While most went with one of the three short-listed candidates as their number one choice, not everyone did. Among the others who were considered the best player of 2013 were Andrea Pirlo, Mesut Ozil, Yaya Toure, Thomas Muller, Andres Iniesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Neymar, Thiago Silva, Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Radamel Falcao, Luis Suarez, Xavi, Robin van Persie, Edinson Cavani, Yaya Toure and Gareth Bale.

 

The Premier League is lacking

 

Premier League players were notable by their absence from among the voters' picks. Only Robin van Persie (39), Eden Hazard (6), Yaya Toure (22), Mesut Ozil (15) and Luis Suarez (10) were in the mix.

 

English players are even worse

 

There was not a single vote for any player in the England team after all of them failed to make it onto the initial 23-man short-list.

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