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10 Dec 2018, Edition - 1245, Monday

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FIFA Ballon d’Or 2018: From Luka Modric to Cristiano Ronaldo; Top 5 contenders for the prestigious award


The wait is almost over and the winner of the Ballon d’Or 2018 will be revealed later tonight in a glittery ceremony in the French capital of Paris. World football’s most iconic individual prize will be awarded in both men’s and women’s categories. Having dominated the award for the past decade the illustrious duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo might get pipped this time around by hot favourite Luka Modric, who has been touted to finally end an era of unprecedented domination by two of football’s biggest superstars.

Juventus forward and Portugal captain Ronaldo and Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi have both won the Ballon d’Or for a record five times each since 2008. They have shared the top prize between them for ten years now but this year it might not be the case as none of them managed to inspire their respective countries to the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup and was limited to success at club level only.

Brazilian playmaker Kaka was the last player other than Messi and Ronaldo to have been awarded the Ballon d’Or in 2007. Here we look at the favourites for the Ballon d’Or 2018.

Top five favourites for the Ballon d’Or 2018 award:

1) Luka Modric: The Real Madrid and Croatia midfield genius is the leading contender for the Ballon d’Or 2018 award. He inspired Croatia to a runners-up finish at the FIFA World Cup 2018 and played an instrumental role in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph last season. Various surveys have already tipped him to win the award with Messi and Ronaldo not even close in the race. Earlier this year, Modric had also pipped Ronaldo to win the FIFA Best Player award.

2) Cristiano Ronaldo: The now Juventus star forward won his third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid last season before leaving the club to join the reigning Serie A champions. He scored 15 goals in 13 games in the Champions League leading Real to the title in typical fashion. Ronaldo is currently on a level with Messi with five Ballon d’Ors to his name and if he manages to bag the award tonight, he will be scripting history. The Portuguese captain won his first Ballon d’Or in 2008 with Manchester United before winning the award four times with Real Madrid in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 respectively.

3) Kylian Mbappe: French sensation and one of the prodigious strikers of world football, Kylian Mbappe was phenomenal for France at the World Cup as he took the tournament by a storm with his brilliant performances for the eventual winners. Mbappe scored four goals for France at the World Cup in Russia and showed glimpses of his brilliance. He won the Young Player of the tournament award and is one of the favourites in the run for the 2018 Ballon d’Or award.

4) Lionel Messi: One of the best footballers of all time, Lionel Messi had a wonderful season with Barcelona winning the La Liga title and the Copa Del Rey in 2017-18. Messi also bagged the European Golden Shoe last season and was awarded La Liga’s Best Player Award. However, he failed to deliver at the World Cup, which has certainly hampered his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time. He has won the honour five times with Barcelona in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

5) Raphael Varane: Real Madrid and France centre-back is one of the most under-rated defenders in modern football. He has in a short span asserted his dominance as one of the best defenders in the world and has already won two La Liga and four Champions League titles with Real Madrid. Varane topped his Champions League feat last season with the World Cup title in Russia, becoming one of the favourites for the Ballon d’Or 2018.