Ballon d’Or 2018: Does Luka Modric deserve it?



On 28 October 2018, Real Madrid CF visited the Camp Nou under immense pressure. Given the bad run of performances that Madrid was having they desperately needed a win. What followed was a one-sided demolition. Barcelona crushed Real Madrid by a margin of 5-1. Real Madrid was humiliated by the Azulgranas.

The defeat revealed a lot about both the teams. It revealed that Real Madrid’s poor summer transfer window is costing them. It revealed that Lopetegui’s decision to sign a contract with Los Blancos was a tragedy. It revealed that Barcelona minus Lionel Messi is more than capable of dealing with oppositions.

The biggest revelation of the match was, however, a point to ponder. The poor quality of performance from a player.

Luka Modric, FIFA The Best Men’s Player of the Year. As of late, his performances are underwhelming and below par. They are below par for any midfielder in the world, especially one who is performing at Real Madrid. The performances of the Croatian clearly don’t fit the definition of the Player of the Season 2017-18.

Luka has always been a person who pulls the strings. He fits in the same school of midfielders such as Xavi, Iniesta and Pirlo. Luka’s performances were barely noticed over the years.

This year was supposed to be Modric’s year. Luka had a tremendous World Cup. He was an instrumental figure in Croatia’s journey to the final of the event. He won the Golden Ball award at the World Cup.

However, after the World Cup, Luka has hardly been above average. He has been mediocre, to say the least. He has had little to no impact so far in 2018-19 season. He is really struggling both in the league and in the UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid’s defence was owned by Barcelona in the Clasico. Luka didn’t have breathing space with Rakitic around. He couldn’t take the ball off the feet of a young Brazilian called Arthur.

Not only against Barcelona, but Luka has also been under par even in the games before. He was poor against Levante, Sevilla, Alaves and even against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.

In all these games, he has not been at the best of his passing. His technical long through pass or lobbed through pass was invisible during the games. He couldn’t keep possession and help in build-ups. The midfield is the heart of the team and Luka is the heart of Madrid’s midfield. The poor showing of the team owes a huge part to Modric’s downward graph.

Coming to the Ballon d’Or, it is a calendar year award for 2018. It is a misconception that 2018 is Modric’s year. His greatest advantage was the World Cup and it skyrocketed him to the favourite spot to win every individual award this year. It was a 7-game tournament that led to Luka’s acknowledgement as one of the best.

However, Luka has been missing since the new season started. He is nowhere to be seen among the most accurate passers. He is nowhere to be seen among the top creators or players with the best match ratings. He has been as good as invisible during almost 90% of the games in 2018-19 season.

All of a sudden, if he appears among the top 30 in the Ballon d’Or shortlists should he automatically win the award? Just because of the good performances in Russia, it isn’t the case that he has had the best 2018. Especially since there are players around him who have been consistent across the year, at least there are two.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been on the top of their game for a major portion of 2018. It was a shame to exclude Messi from the FIFA The Best podium and it was only on basis of the World Cup performance as it seemed.

Messi had the best average match rating among the three players in FIFA’s podium. UEFA snubbed Ronaldo for their best player award when in reality, Ronaldo played a bigger role in Madrid’s Champions League success than any of his teammates.

Both Luka and CR7 had a poor showing in the late knockout stages and the final. The group stages and the first two knockout rounds, however, belonged to Ronaldo.

It has been seen that the jury and the voters are really bored of having Messi and Ronaldo win the awards. However, they are left with no choice here. A player who is under par for the starting three months of the new season cannot be the Player of the Year.

It also isn’t justice to snub Messi and Ronaldo from the award in favour of Luka. The two have been at their consistent best in 2018 as always. If it wasn’t for his injury Messi might have sealed the award given his red-hot form in the new season.

It really is up to the jury of France Football to decide the Player of the Year. At this moment, it will be a terrible loss for football if Messi or Ronaldo are snubbed in favour of Modric for the award. It will create a huge controversy.

If Luka performs out of the world during the month of November, then maybe he would have a shot at the award. For now, the frontrunners are Messi and Ronaldo, as always. But it has been noted in almost every year that the months after August have not been given much importance. It was the case last season when CR7 won despite a terrible start to the new season, however, his astonishing 10 goals between the quarterfinals and the final of the UCL 2016/17 gave him the prize.

So it really won’t be a surprise should Luka pull off the unthinkable. Does he really deserve the award? for now, let us say, a big no.