The FIFA awards take place on January 13th 2014 in Zurich and in this piece I am going to give my opinion on who should win three of the main awards: The Ballon d’Or, The Puskás Award and Coach of the Year. (I have left out the other awards, because I don’t have enough knowledge on them to make a prediction).
First of all, the Balon d’Or looks like being the most competitive and exciting it has been for a while, as Messi has won it fairly comfortably for the last 4 years. This year is much different and since the shortlist was inevitably cut down to Ronaldo, Ribery and Messi, speculation has kicked into overdrive, with seemingly everyone in the world of football giving their opinion on who should win. Any of the three contenders could win it without there being too many complaints. However, while there is no clear cut favourite, for me Ronaldo is the obvious choice and simply has to win this year. His 2013 has been phenomenal and he has stepped his game up dramatically from last year, especially since the start of this season. Going into this season, all three players were on a similar level but Ronaldo has been magnificent since then and shown just how good he is and his desire to improve (even at the age of 28) shows just how much he wants to be ‘world number one’ again after being second best to Messi for the last few years. His achievements this year have been enhanced by the fact that he has done it without Mesut Özil who provided him with the most assists (27) during his time at Madrid. It would be a travesty if he doesn’t win in Zurich. Here are some key stats of Ronaldo’s 2013:
- 26 goals in 19 games this season
- 9 goals in 4 Champions League group stage matches this season, which is a record
- 10 goals in 9 games for Portugal, including his brilliant hat trick v Sweden
- 8 hat tricks (6 for Real Madrid, 2 for Portugal)
- 66 goals, Messi and Ribery had 64 combined (correct up to 23rd November)
- His total Real Madrid record is 227 goals in 118 games
Ronaldo’s challengers deserve a mention too, especially Ribery who has also shown his desire to raise his game. He has been in the sort of form this year that saw him linked with a number of Europe’s top clubs in 2009, including Real Madrid. Not to mention being a key figure in helping Bayern win the treble for the 2012-13 season. Lionel Messi has also had a good year, but he has been below the usual standard he has set himself. His cause hasn’t been helped by injuries, but it’s testament to him that he is still in the top three despite his setbacks this year.
The competition for Coach of the Year is also stiff and the three nominees are Sir Alex Ferguson, Jupp Heynckes and Jürgen Klopp. The two Germans had great years with their respective clubs and Heynckes’ shows how good he did with Bayern, considering he only spent the first half of the year in management. In any other year one of them would win the award, but the Scot will surely win this year. While he may not deserve it on 2013 alone, given that he only won the league with Manchester United, his retirement after a 27 year career at Old Trafford will mean he will probably win the award as a tribute. However, Ferguson may receive the Presidential Award, leaving Jupp Heynckes as the obvious choice after he won the treble with Bayern and created an almost unstoppable team.
Finally, the Puskás Award for best goal has been whittled down to three contenders: Ibrahimović v England (13/11/12), Nemaja Matic v Porto (13/1/13) and Neymar v Japan (15/6/13). All three goals are spectacular, but it is difficult to look past Ibra’s magnificent over head kick, which qualifies for this year’s award despite being scored over a year ago. The two other goals are great, but fairly similar in terms of range and technique. Ibrahimović’s is unique, the kind of goal that silences you while you watch on in disbelief; I even found myself willing the ball to go in even though it meant England would lose the game. If anyone was going to score that goal it would be Ibrahimović and it sums him up well, a player who is always capable of the spectacular and sets out to entertain and amaze.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave your opinion in the comments below.