Ballon d'Or

Dream Team: Cruyff, Ronaldinho, Zidane among major absentees

France Football named their best XI of all time in place of the Ballon d'Or award this year and there were a few omissions that fans have called foul on.

Di Stéfano y Cruyff.

France Football’s Dream Team contained some unquestionable genius among its selected players with some, like Diego Maradona, Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, never in any danger of missng out on a place in this year’s alternantive to the Ballon d’or, cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic to the probable frustration of Robert Lewandoswki’s inaugural crowning.

However, as with all such lists and attempts to rank the essentially unrankable, there has been some backlash among football fans concerning those players who did not make the cut, chief among them Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ronaldinho.

Here we take a look at who may have made the team ahead of those that finally did.

Keepers

Perhaps the least contentious position of the lot, largely because you can only have one keeper and a majority of fans are agreed that Lev Yashin, the only stopper to ever win the Ballon d’Or, is unarguably the greatest of all time. That said, there would have been few complaints had Iker Casillas or Gianluigi Buffon pulled on their gloves for this side.

Defenders

France Football went with a 3-4-3 for their Dream Team to stack as much attacking talent in as possible so there was only room for one central defender and Franz Beckenbauer, arguably the greatest of them all and a two-time Ballon d’Or recipient, was a shoo-in. Sergio Ramos and Bobby Moore would certainly be on the bench but Der Kaiser stands alone. Either side of him, Cafu and Paolo Maldini were popular choices and the only genuine challenger to the Italy and Milan great was Brazil left back Roberto Carlos.

Midfielders

The centre of the park is the area that has created the most discontent. Lothar Matthäus and Xavi line up alongside Pelé and Maradona with the latter two only tentatively associated with the midfield. Maradona was officially regarded as an attacking midfielder although position scarcely mattered to the Cosmic Barrel, while Pelé is more traditionally regarded as a forward. However, it would be inconceivable to omit either. Alfredo Di Stéfano and Ferenc Puskas were also included as midfielders in the preliminary list despite both being forwards and neither made the cut, despite Di Stéfano regularly featuring in XIs of this sort. Among the notable absentees are three-times Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini and fellow France great Zinedine Zidane, as well as Xavi’s erstwhile midfield partner Andrés Iniesta.

Forwards

With Maradona and Pelé crowbarred into the midfield, it was never in doubt that their contemporary equivalents Messi and Ronaldo would be in the front line. Brazilian great Ronaldo Nazário was the popular choice for the central attacking role, a double World Cup winner and considered the greatest striker of all time. Although there were many candidates for the front line there will be few arguments about the final choices, although any manager would like to have Cruyff, George Best, Marco van Basten and Ronaldinho kicking their heels on the bench.