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Luka Modric win Ballon d'Or,Croatia World Cup 2018

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Will Luka Modric win Ballon d’Or after lifting 2018 World Cup with Croatia?

Croatia must not get carried away in pursuit of revenge against France

We don’t know yet, and we can’t be sure, but we should be optimistic. Luka Modric has done exceptionally well playing in his position to deserve a Ballon d’Or. He has been doing it regularly for Real Madrid helping them to win four UEFA Champions League titles and three of them came in a row. Now, he has helped his national side Croatia to reach their first ever World Cup final, what else you expect from him?

Yes, he should win the World Cup, but it’s easier said than done.

We all remember in 2010, Andres Iniesta won the World Cup for Spain. He was equally good with Barcelona, but then he couldn’t eclipse his club forward star Lionel Messi to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or. He also won Euro 2012 with Spain, that year also Messi dominated the individual accolades.

But again, If winning the World Cup and scoring 50 goals a season for Real Madrid or Barcelona is a benchmark to win Ballon d’Or or FIFA’s BEST Award, none of the candidate fulfills that demand this year.

Lionel Messi is far from his best and Cristiano Ronaldo’s antic performances only came alive in the last four months of the season. So, the duo who dominated the individual awards for a decade sharing equal trophies won’t be running the show this time, and they must not be.

Here comes the other trident. We have PSG’s 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, Atletico Madrid’s veteran Antoine Griezmann (both playing for France at 2018 World Cup), and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric (lead Croatia to their first ever World Cup final).

You may bring in Neymar as well, but I can only recall his theatrical antics in recent time on the pitch rather than his football abilities. He was sidelined for three months due to injury, so better luck next time for the Brazilian.

Coutinho has also done exceptionally well, but his performances are not aligned perfectly. He played half a season for Liverpool, and next half with Barcelona. It didn’t help to take his career anywhere. If he would have stayed with Liverpool, and Liverpool would have won the Champions League final against Real Madrid, it would have been a different scenario.

Mohamed Salah would have been another name there for his exceptional debut season with Liverpool. But again, Liverpool didn’t win anything despite Salah’s second best goal scoring spree in the club history. It might have been a different case if Salah would have played the final for full 90 minutes and Liverpool have had win the Champions League. His run at World Cup with Egypt also didn’t go well as Egypt failed to register a single victory and eliminated at group stage.

So coming back to original choice, we have only three names – Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, and Luka Modric.

Griezmann hasn’t have a good World Cup individually despite being part of France team which has reached final, and I don’t see his performance in final will brought much glory to him personally. His Europa League performances hardly matter when it comes to winning the world. Europa League is Europe’s second tier football and it doesn’t get the same recognition as winning UEFA Champions League. Griezmann will have to wait for another season.

Mbappe is having a very good World Cup and his pace is leaving opponents’ defenders on the floor, but only a month of performance and three to four good games can’t take away what Modric has achieved in his football career. We can give some time to Mbappe to gain experience, but Modric is in his 30’s.

Modric is 32. He may not have another shot left to perform at top level. It’s a year when footballers’ career starts to take a toll. It would be a fantastic year for him winning Champions League and then winning World Cup.

What else you need to win Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s BEST Award after winning Champions League and Euro 2016. Modric is one notch ahead if he wins World Cup. But again, if he’ll running against France’s two very own son. Ballon d’Or is France Magazine own award, and they could be France biased.

It’s time to see football outside of strikers’ perspective. There are other roles on the pitch which contributes equally. They don’t score as many goals but they dominate the game with their passes, silky skills, touches, and an eye for goal when needed. No one has come near to Modric in comparison to those in recent seasons.

He has the best passing accuracy rate in Europe close to 90%, whether it’s short passing or long range. Modric is equally good with the dead-ball situations, delivering crosses in the box from right or left, and you can’t find a better midfielder to take shorts from long range when it needed.

He is in UEFA Champions League team of the season three years running as Real Madrid won hat-trick Champions League; 2015/16, 2016/17, and 2017/18. He was also part of 2013/14 team when Real Madrid won La decimal winning the trophy after 12 years drought.

Modric is also part of FIFA FIFPro World XI, three years running – 2015, 2016, and 2017. He is in UEFA Team of the Year two years running 2016 and 2017, and he is ESPN’s midfielder of the year of 2016 & 2017.

IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker Bronze Award 2017, UEFA Champions League Awards Best Midfielder 2017, and FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball 2017 is also in his bags. He is part of IFFHS Men’s World Team 2017.

What else you expect from a midfielder. He has got everything to win this year Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s BEST Men’s Player Award.

You can’t do injustice to a player who has already suffered a lot in his childhood. He was the victim of Croatia’s independence. His grandfather was executed by Serbian when he was a child. He and his family didn’t have a home to live as a refugee. He spent his childhood in different hotels in Zadar, before moving to Croatia’s top club Dinamo Zagreb.

After Dinamo Zagreb move, Modric buys a home for his family in Croatia. His situations have made him strong from inside despite being skinny and weak looking man from outside. He told El Pais last month, “I think of a lot of things happened to me as a child in Croatia, and that left me feeling like I should never ease up.”

He was bullied playing for his first club in Zadar, then to Zagreb, and then in Bosnia & Herzegovina. His skinny appearance doesn’t leave him alone even when he made a move to Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.

Modric has proved every one wrong and now he has led Croatia to World Cup final. What three consecutive Champions League trophy couldn’t earn him, a World Cup must deliver. He deserved Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s BEST Award this time.

It’s time for Ronaldo and Messi as well to pass the reign to someone else. A decade is good enough domination. We won’t be seeing another decade in football when it will be dominated by only two players. If Ronaldo or Messi wins this time, it will only be their marketability and coaches and players inability to find a new star.

Modric has earned it, just like Kaka in 2007 (the last man to lift the individual prestigious award before Messi and Ronaldo). I don’t know Croatia will write another history winning the FIFA World Cup 2018 or not, but you must not take that moment away from Croatia’s another hero in the making after Davor Suker.


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