Everything you need to know about the Ballon d’Or
Let’s take a look at what the Ballon d’Or is, how it’s decided and who has won it in the past.
Ballon d’Or history
The Ballon d’Or is an annual award presented by France Football to the best performing footballer over the past calendar year. The award is generally considered the highest individual honour a football player can receive. The first Ballon d’Or was awarded in 1956 to Stanley Matthews.
From 2010 to 2015 the Ballon d’Or was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year Award, though it is now once again independently awarded by France Football. Since 2018 an award has also been presented to the best female player, the Ballon d’Or Feminin.
Ballon d’Or voting
The Ballon d’Or winner is chosen from 30 nominees by a panel of journalists. The 30-man shortlist is chosen by the editorial staff of France Football, and then an international jury of journalists from a number of different nations vote for the winner. Each country has one representative journalist. A full ranking of all nominees is given during the ceremony before the winner is announced.
Each journalist selects their top five players, with six points going to the first selection, four to the second, three to the third, two to the fourth and one to the player listed in fifth. The voting is based on a set criteria, which are considered in the following order:
- Individual and collective performances from the past year
- Player class, which France Football defines as “talent and fair play”
- The player’s overall career
Ballon d’Or winners
For the majority of its history the Ballon d’Or produced a wide variety of winners, with a new player taking the prize most years. However, from 2008-2017 the award was shared exclusive between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, both winning a record five each.
Real Madrid’s Luke Modric broke that stronghold by winning the 2018 award, and though both Ronaldo and Messi are still in contention, the award is now much more open than it has been for most of the past decade.
Picking a winner
Most recent Ballon d’Or winners have won by a wide margin, with the last three winners gaining at least 200 more votes than second place. However, that doesn’t mean picking a winner is easy, so it’s important to do your research before betting on the Ballon d’Or.
It’s important to remember that award doesn’t simply go to whoever scores the most goals. Individual performances in certain tournaments and trophies won by a player are also big factors.
For example, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo recorded much more impressive numbers, Luka Modric’s 2018 win was largely put down to his performances during the 2018 World Cup. Modric led an unfancied Croatia to an unprecedented final, while Messi and Ronaldo both struggled to make an impact on the world’s biggest football competition.
This means its important to carefully consider each candidates achievements from the past year and pay close attention to the Ballon d’Or odds.
2019 Ballon d’Or odds
The bookies’ favourite is usually a pretty safe bet when it comes to Ballon d’Or betting. For example, 2018 winner Modric was the odds on favourites, with most bookies pricing him around 2/5. However, this year’s Ballon d’Or is one of the closest in memory and is far from a foregone conclusion.
Virgil van Dijk is currently odds-on favourite, with Coral pricing him at 4/11. The Liverpool defender enjoyed an excellent year, winning the Champions League, racking up impressive stats and further establishing himself as the best defender in Europe in most people’s eyes.
Lionel Messi is second favourite at 7/4 odds. From there there’s a fairly big drop off, with Sadio Mane 14/1, Cristiano Ronaldo 16/1 and Mohamed Salah 25/1.
While van Dijk is far and away the favourite at most bookies, Messi certainly can’t be ruled out. The Argentine won La Liga with Barcelona and also scored a bag full of goals in 2019. Another big factor is that Messi has already won this year’s FIFA Best Men’s Player Award, earning 46 votes in comparison to van Dijk’s 38.
It’s important to remember that the FIFA award is judged differently to the Ballon d’Or, as the coach, captain and media representative of each FIFA national team gets to vote for the Best award, while the Ballon d’Or is decided by a panel of journalists. While Messi winning the FIFA award doesn’t give any indication that he will win the Ballon d’Or, as the odds reflect, but it does show how tight this year’s Ballon d’Or is.
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