The ten year duopoly on the Ballon d'Or has been broken by Modric, confirming what Manu Carreño announced on Spanish TV programme El Larguero two weeks ago. The award is praise indeed for a model player who conducts the team from midfield, with expertise, technique, determination and brilliance. He has been the one making things happen for Madrid as they have gone on to win four of the last five Champions Leagues, of which the most recent has counted towards this award. So too have his efforts in guiding Croatia to the World Cup final, raising them above their small-country limitations, to the heights of the achievement seen with the Boban-Suker generation.
Modric compensates for Iniesta and Xavi
It's a good reward for Modric, a war child who began to play the beautiful game amongst debris and chased his footballing dream until until reaching the very top. I confess that he was not my first choice. I voted for Griezmann and Mbappé ahead of him, putting him third, but now that he has won I'm happy that they are recognising the merits of those who pull the strings, despite being further from the goal. Somehow this award compensates for Iniesta and Xavi, who missed out in 2010 perhaps because they split the vote. Modric, who has the essence of both, has been the one to break the long Cristiano-Messi duel.
Cristiano and Messi interrupted, or gone?
When we look back in a few years, the name of Modric will stand out in the list of Ballon d'Or winners as the one that interrupted the reign of the two geniuses. I don't know if either of them (Cristiano finished second, Messi fifth) will win it again, effectively scoring the decisive goal in their award penalty shoot-out. Coming soon could be Mbappé, Neymar, Hazard, Salah... There is no doubt, however, that the Ballon d'Or, a great initiative from L'Équipe-France Football in the now-distant fifties when football was stitching up Europe's post-war wounds, continues to add splendour to this beautiful game of ours.