Alfredo Relaño, who is the journalist with Spain's Ballon d'Or vote, explains his choices and gives his thoughts on winner Luka Modric.
Diario AS editor Alfredo Relaño is entrusted with casting the Spanish media's ballot in the voting for the Ballon d'Or. This year, his chosen five were:
Six points: Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid/France)
Four points: Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain/France)
Three points: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)
Two points: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus/Portugal)
One point: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
Here, Relaño explains his Ballon d'Or choices:
On Modric, the winner of the 2018 Ballon d'Or
He wasn't my first choice, but I think he's a worthy winner. I think it's great that we'll be talking about Luka Modric when, in the years to come, we look back on who it was that managed to break up the Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly. His overall track record speaks for itself, and he has been fantastic this year. He has once more been a highly influential figure in a Real Madrid team that has won the Champions League, and also played a key role in Croatia, a small country, getting to the final of the World Cup. He's a player who is an example to others; he's intelligent, technically-gifted and attractive to watch. I really like him.
On Griezmann, his first choice for the Ballon d'Or
I voted for the top five [in the final standings], but in a different order. I went for Griezmann first, perhaps because I tend to value players who are closer to goal; it's a big factor for me. In some ways, Modric is a better player than Griezmann. There's a special kind of elegance to the way he plays. But I've really liked Griezmann this year, because he's been the heartbeat of the Atlético Madrid team and, given their cautious style of play, he doesn't have an easy task. I also particularly liked his World Cup, because his role changed a bit. He dropped deeper, into a position where he had a better view of the play, was France's chief outlet when they turned defence into attack, and played a different game to the one he does at Atlético. His ability to play these different roles so well was something that really caught my eye.
I had doubts [about which way to vote] right up to the end; in the same way that in previous years I'd found it tough to choose between Cristiano and Messi, this year I found it tough to choose between several players.
On Mbappé, his second choice for the Ballon d'Or
I thought he was the most dazzling talent on show, and I think this is a prize that he's going to take by the scruff of the neck imminently. He's got so much ability, so much explosiveness, and scores a lot of goals; he's scored a lot of goals since he's come back from the World Cup, too... So that's why I voted for him ahead of Modric, but I'm also very happy that the Real Madrid man has won it.
The end of the Messi-Cristiano Ballon d'Or duopoly
This was a World Cup year, and in such years we also have a duty to look particularly closely at what happened at the tournament when it came to the crunch. I was talking to [Fabio] Capello about it, and he said: 'The World Cup is the pinnacle - the best against the best, in an environment in which the pressure couldn't be greater. A player who is a stand-out performer at a World Cup is a player who truly has something special.' And the fact is, the World Cup is something that damages Messi's case, because he doesn't play as well for Argentina, save for the odd particularly good game. If he played [for Barcelona] like he does for his country, we wouldn't consider him an all-time great; we'd see him as just one of the very good players on the scene at that particular moment in time.
As for Cristiano: he started the World Cup terrifically, but didn't finish it so well. But I'd expect these two to be right up there in the race [for individual awards] this season, and Mbappé too. I don't think we should rule out Cristiano and Messi winning the Ballon d'Or again; I don't think they're done. But I think they'll be pushed all the way, which in previous years hasn't been the case.