Is The Messi-Ronaldo Domination Finally Going To End?
For 10 long years, the talismanic duo had a stranglehold on the FIFA World Player of The Year, Ballon d’Or and other honors. Every other great of their generation fell by the wayside when pitted against them for the most prestigious individual awards in modern football.
The likes of Xavi, Iniesta, and others never could win it with Iniesta going the farthest, finishing runner-up in 2010. They were goal scoring machines in arguably the top leagues of the world playing against and along the best in the game.
Yes, we are talking of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who no less than define a period in world football. Since 2007, they have made to the final list of every FIFA and Ballon d'Or awards (the only exception being in 2010 when Ronaldo didn’t make it to top 3) with either one or the other winning them from 2008 to 2017.
Such was their domination that they not only consistently made it to the shortlist for almost a decade, but never even missed out on the top two spots when they were named among finalists. Even in the year 2007, when neither of them won these awards, they were sitting pretty at 2nd and 3rd spot behind winner Kaka in both FIFA World Player of the Year as well as the Ballon d'Or.
Two things happened this year in these much-celebrated awards. Lionel Messi did not make it to the top 3 finalists of The Best FIFA Men’s Player for 2018 (coming fifth in voting percentages) and Cristiano Ronaldo failing to bag the trophy despite being in that shortlist, with the prize ultimately going to Player of the Tournament of 2018 FIFA World Cup, Luka Modric.
It is highly likely that Modric will pip Ronaldo and Messi to the Ballon d’Or award as well, which is to be declared on 3 December 2018 by the renowned French magazines. the winners of these two awards have usually been the same at least since 2007 when these two were named in the final 3 for the first time and just interchanged their 2nd and 3rd positions when both the awards were announced.
Therefore, should Modric win the Ballon d'Or too, it will be the first time since 2007 that any player other than the Argentine and the Portuguese will win them, with the Brazilian Kaka being the last to do so.
It is not that there was any stoppage to their prolific goal scoring this season, but Messi failed to inspire his national team to the pedestal losing to the ultimate winners France in the Quarters; while Cristiano, though shone in the group stages, failed to make a decisive impact in the 2nd round tussle against Uruguay.
It is to be noted here that both of them were as prolific as any in the season, but the failure of their respective national teams to make it far in the World Cup might have cost them the place, as the team performances seem to be heavily preferred as against individual records in deciding the winners of these showpiece award events.
Ronaldo has made a switch to a different club and league after achieving almost everything in his 8-year long stay at Real Madrid and took his time to hit his straps in Serie A, taking 4 games to open his account, but has scored 7 in his last 7; while Messi too had a bright start to his club season sitting pretty at 2nd position in La Liga goal-scoring leaderboard in his usual Barcelona colors.
But once the pattern is broken, there is a certain possibility that neither of these players may again put their hands on the coveted award, with Messi reaching 31 and there remain doubts over his participation in the next version of FIFA World Cup with Messi reaching 31 and there remain doubts over his participation in the next version of FIFA World Cup, and Cristiano, though feeling like 23, is actually approaching mid 30s, an age at which lesser sportsmen start thinking about their retirement plans.
But having said so, it would be foolish to bet against them not blazing their way up to be the world's best more than once in the remaining part of their careers, as millions of their fans too would like to see them right at the top as long as they keep playing.
What fans and fellow players expect of them was pretty clear when the 19-year-old Mbappe revealed he could only compete against humans when asked about his claim to world’s best, referring to the super-human prowess of his two legendary seniors plying the same trade.