Opinion: Why Cristiano should have been awarded the UEFA Player of the Year 2018
Before the announcement of the UEFA Player of The Year 2018 (UEFA POTY 2018) award, Reshmin Chowdhury, the BT Sports presenter and the lead presenter for the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League was sitting next to Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah. She was interviewing them. At that moment, no one would have thought of that the award was going to be won by the Croatian midfield magician, Luka Modric.
For the last decade, we were habituated to see one of the two podium finishers regularly in the event, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. This year when one was already out of the contest, and the other was not present at the ceremony, the award function was giving a feel as if everyone was attending a funeral.
Luka Modric is one of the greatest midfielders to have graced the sport. It would be a tough task to find ten midfielders parallel to him in the history of the game. However, with due respect to the UEFA POTY 2018, the award was never given for who the player is. Until now, It has always been handed to the player who has showcased a top-notch performance in the season. This year the decision seems to be highly controversial.
When it comes to Champion's League, it is unnecessary to talk about who was the best performer for the last three seasons. Let's analyse the performances of the three nominees in the UEFA Champions League, 2018.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 12 Games, 15 Goals, 3 Assists
Mohamed Salah: 13 Games, 10 Goals, 5 Assists
Luka Modric: 11 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Cristiano Ronaldo had performed way ahead than the other two nominees. It may be argued by the Modric fans that he was the heart of the engine at the Madrid midfield. Tony Kroos was equally crucial on that part.
In the first half of the season, when Ronaldo was not scoring in the La Liga, Real Madrid was suffering like hell. Modric was oiling the engine of the team during that part of the season. In the same period, Merengues were rocking away in the Champion's league.
Cristiano was the sole reason for the difference in the run of the Europian Champions. Those who had watched the games in that period must be aware that CR7 created history by scoring in all group games. At the turn of the year, Madrid bounced back in the La Liga only when Cristiano again found his shooting boots in January 2018.
It is going to become a puzzle to be discussed the most that how on Earth the judges' panel has handed the award to Luka Modric. In deciding the result, if they have given priority to World Cup performance at Russia, then FIFA and UEFA should rethink on changing some rules about determining the prize.
Even on the grounds of World Cup performance, Modric was not the best of the Croatians. Ivan Perisic, Ivan Raikitic and Mario Mandzukic were equally better as was Modric. In fact, Perisic was better than him. Modric won the golden ball though. One part of the credit goes to his leadership abilities.
Cristiano Ronaldo's award ceremony snub is justified. He had given his heart out on the field to carry the burden of a club that boasts about their trophy cabinet. Hereafter, judges should keep their bias heart aside before giving any judgement. Otherwise, there is a probability that the UEFA award ceremony might lose its sheen. If judges decide the champion performance in this manner, then we might not see the rise of a self-motivated world class performer from scratch again.
For all the Cristiano fans, the echoes of the heartbreak for Cristiano Ronaldo not winning the UEFA Player of the Year, 2018, will etch our minds for eternity.