The honour of football’s most prestigious individual award will be bestowed upon two superstars from both the men’s and women’s games in a glitzy ceremony in Paris tonight. Karim Benzema is an overwhelming favourite to claim the male version after firing Carlo Ancelotti’s side to a memorable LaLiga and Champions League double, scoring a whopping 44 goals across all competitions.
He is expected to land his first Ballon d’Or ahead of the likes of Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah this evening, with somebody not named Lionel Messi – who did not make the final shortlist this year – or Cristiano Ronaldo set to scoop the prize for only the second time since 2007. The first rankings have been revealed, with Harry Kane in 21st, Ronaldo in 20th, his worst result since 2005, and Virgil van Dijk voted 16th.
Barcelona superstar Alexia Putellas is the favourite to clinch her second successive Ballon d’Or Féminin, while there are a range of other awards up for grabs including the Kopa Trophy for the best performing men’s under-21 player and Yashin Trophy to the top goalkeeper. Follow LIVE coverage of the Ballon d’Or awards ceremony with Standard Sport’s blog below!
Champions League winners
But she faces competition from the likes of Beth Mead, who had a season to remember for both club and country, and of course the Lyon squad who beat Barcelona in the Women’s Champions League final.
Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural Ballon d’Or Féminin, scored and assisted in that match, and she is nominated once again.
Clear favourite for the Ballon d’Or Féminin
Reminder that it’s not just the men’s award being given out tonight.
We also have the Ballon d’Or Féminin, with Alexia Putellas the winner last year and she’s expected to pick up the individual prize once again.
Only 28 but already has incredible numbers.
Rankings so far…
With just the top ten of the Ballon d’Or to be announced, here’s the results we’ve had so far.
11th: Heung-min Son
12th: Riyad Mahrez
13th: Sebastian Haller
=14th: Fabinho, Rafael Leao
16th: Virgil van Dijk
=17th: Luis Diaz, Casemiro, Dusan Vlahovic
20th: Cristiano Ronaldo
21st: Harry Kane
=22nd: Phil Foden, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Bernardo Silva
=25th: Darwin Nunez, Joshua Kimmich, Joao Cancelo, Mike Maignan, Christopher Nkunku, Antonio Rudiger
Red carpet time!
Still 90 minutes until the main ceremony gets underway but the stars are starting to arrive!
They’ll be met with rain once they get out of their cars, so they might be a bit quicker than usual in speed-walking over to the red carpet.
Son latest to learn ranking
Heung-min Son just misses out on a place in the top-ten of voting. He’s 11th, beating Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane by ten places.
It was 23 Premier League goals for the Spurs forward last season, giving him a share of the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah as he helped fire his club back into the Champions League.
Mahrez just outside top ten
Feels like Riyad Mahrez faces a constant battle to even get into the Manchester City team, but he’s done enough to finish 12th in the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
The Algerian had the most goalscoring season of his career, netting 24 times with seven of those coming in Europe.
Tough life when you’re the 12th best player in the world and still only get three Premier League starts so far this campaign.
Haller ranking confirmed
It’s 13th in the voting for Sebastian Haller.
The forward had a sensational season for Ajax, scoring 34 goals in all competitions and netting 11 in his first seven Champions League matches.
Haller is currently undergoing treatment for a malignant testicular tumour.
Two players in a share for 14th
Rafael Leao and Fabinho the next two players to find out their rankings. The duo share 14th in the voting.
Leao has shone for AC Milan, so much so there has been plenty of talk about a potential big-money move to Chelsea, while Fabinho was a key part of Liverpool’s charge on all fronts last season.
Been a bit more difficult for the Brazilian this campaign, as it has for many of his team-mates, but that doesn’t have an impact on the voting for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
‘Messi is the Ballon d’Or’
For the first time since 2005, Lionel Messi has not been nominated for the Ballon d’Or while Cristiano Ronaldo is 20th in the voting.
France Football chief Pascal Ferre believes it is an award that means more to players than any other, but warned the next generation of football stars that they have a long way to go before they are ready to take the baton from Messi and Ronaldo.
“In 2019 [Messi] told me that he had forgotten the feeling of pleasure that came from winning it, he had realised that he missed it,” Ferre said.
“The Ballon d’Or is Messi and Messi is the Ballon d’Or. It is a very important award for them. The Ballon d’Or is one of the few things that cannot be bought. That makes them humble in the face of this type of reward, it makes them children.
“There is a lot of talk about the rivalry between Mbappe and Haaland, but neither of them has won the Champions League. At Mbappe’s age, Messi already had two Ballon d’Ors. If they want to establish a similar rivalry they have to start winning big trophies already. Messi and Ronaldo didn’t take so long.”
Kane leads the way for England stars
What we do know from the results so far – Harry Kane was the best English player last season according to the Ballon d’Or voting.
He finished 21st, just ahead of international team-mates Phil Foden and Trent Alexander-Arnold in a share of 22nd.
A strong England showing in Qatar at the World Cup next month and the likes of Kane will be eyeing much higher than 21st for next year’s award!
Pakistan vs England | Day five morning highlights
France beats Poland and more in today’s World Cup Daily Diary
Today was about England and France eyeballing each other over their respective opponents, with the only drama being whether or not they would get caught looking too far ahead. They most certainly did not, engaging in a “Anything you can do..” dance that set them up for a glossy quarterfinal on Friday. Let’s get into the nuts and bolts.
Game of the day – France 3 – 1 Poland
Either choice would have been acceptable, if I’m allowed to give myself an out or an excuse, as both games followed kind of the same pattern. The chatter the past couple days has been around what to do against a team that’s sitting off of you and trying to nullify your space in midfield, thanks to the US’s struggle against such a side. One answer is, “have Kylian Mbappé.” Sadly, that’s only available to one team in this tournament.
It’s obviously more complicated than that, but not by much. Poland did their usual Poland thing, which was to pack five across midfield and hopefully limit Antoine Griezmann’s access to the ball while keeping both Mbappé and Dembele wide. The Poles actually looked a little more aggressive, a low bar for them admittedly, on the rare times they got the ball and might have had the best chances in the first half. Hugo Lloris had to pull off a great save to keep from shockingly going behind, along with a Raphael Varane goal-line clearance in addition.
But that was about it for Poland’s threat, because they’re Poland. And you can plan to keep Mbappé out wide or burden him with extra defenders, and he’s still going to open you up. To open the scoring for France was a matter of him drawing defenders to him just enough to find an alley to slip a through-ball to Olivier Giroud, which is the unheralded part of his game:
Again, it’s beyond easy and cliche to say goals change games, but when the team that’s the favorite and has been facing a low block all night scores first, it flips everything on its head. Poland couldn’t simply hold out and hope anymore. Which means more space for France, which means Mbappé has more space, which means…
The second goal, which is unfair and rude, got most of the plaudits but the first one is high on the stupid level too. You’re not supposed to be able to beat a keeper, especially one having the tournament that Szczesny was until this point, that effortlessly at the near post. Poland probably thought they had this covered, for just an instant, given that it did look like Mbappé waited too long and had his options narrowed. Except he always has an out, he always has an option. I guess any player always has an option if, “Release a Hadoken of a shot with minimal backlift” is in their holster.
If France has a worry, and it’s hard to tell if they do, it’s that Poland was able to get at them occasionally down their right side, where Jules Kounde looked a little out of place as a right-back. England certainly don’t lack options on the left side of their attack. But then, when you have No. 10 in your attack, are you ever all that worried?
Other results: England 3 – 0 Senegal
It’ll be washed away after the final score, but England did not look great before they took the lead, and just like Poland, Senegal had the best chance with the score at 0-0. Both teams will spend a while wondering what would have happened if they could have finished. On such margins…
Much like France, much like Argentina, much like the US even, England was facing a disciplined opponent whose first, second, and third aim was defending and cutting off space. But whereas France and Argentina called upon otherworldly individual brilliance, England went the otherworldly team brilliance route for their first goal:
This is what the US couldn’t do, but the US don’t have Harry Kane or Jude Bellingham. Bellingham shifts out a little wider and drops a little deeper, Kane does his thing where he drops in deeper but behind the opponent’s midfield line. The England defense feeds a ball through the lines to Kane who can then flick a pass to the on-rushing Bellingham, whose touch is so silky soft your knees just disappear and he can control it at full speed and get to running at the Senegal defense. Henderson follows him through the middle, both goal-side of the midfielders that had been tasked with marking them and keeping them from getting passes from the England defense. Kane completely flips the play on them. .
Much like France, the game flips when England take the lead, as Senegal couldn’t wait around. Whereas the US has Jesus Ferreira only occasionally attempting this, and also having a terminal case of “being Jesus Ferreira” and not Harry Kane. The US midfield wasn’t dedicated enough to dropping deeper or wider to try and either lose their markers or provide space for their forwards to dive into. And they simply don’t have this level of talent. That’s how you get what we got here last week (or Saturday, as it were). This is how you get to be England, prancing to the quarters and looking like a genuine favorite for the whole thing.
Senegal haven’t been great when they have to take the initiative in this tournament, as England really only had to focus on Ismaila Sarr. They were pretty easily picked apart for goals two and three:
Life’s easier when you have Jude Bellingham to dribble through an entire midfield.
England-France is almost too good for a quarterfinal, but that’s our treat. England’s strength, the Rice-Bellingham axis in midfield, is exactly where France have suffered some injuries and are a little inexperienced as a result. Griezmann makes them dangerous but he also leaves them a little lightweight in the middle. But they also have Mbappé, which is the punch-the-game-board answer to everything.
Goal of the Day
It’s a tie between England’s first, a symphony of passing and movement, and Mbappé’s third. We already posted both, so you can decide:
Did VAR fuck anything up?
Not today, Satan.
Did FIFA/Qatar fuck anything up?
No, but now feels like a good time that the broadcast of every game does not need a shot of Gianni Infantino in his fucking suite sitting in his fucking plush recliner every goddamn time. It’s a reminder of how we ended up with this hell tournament. Remember, originally FIFA thought they could hold this thing in the summer in Qatar, because all the people voting on it were not only bagging bribes for millions (allegedly) but they didn’t have to concern themselves with the heat. They would go from their air conditioned hotel suites to their air conditioned limos to their air conditioned skybox at the stadium and back again. Seeing Infantino sitting in one every game he attends is just about the starkest image of how such a thing like this ridiculous tournament could happen, because the guys making decisions are only the types to be sitting in that type of a chair at that portion of the stadium, only making considerations for guys who sit in that type of chair in that portion of the stadium.
Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?
After two weeks it’s getting harder and harder to actually distinguish words Lalas says more than just hearing his voice as a constant drone. It’s aggravating that Fox’s coverage of this has tried to mimic their NFL coverage’s most annoying habit, which is having their analysts not only narrate replays (not their job) but also trying to sound funny and cool while doing it. Lalas’s trick today was while doing postgame highlights of France’s win, attempting to advertise and tease his Power Rankings to follow as if we were waiting for them on the same level of the CFP standings. Power Rankings are a curse upon all sports coverage, and even more so when a dunderhead like Lalas is authoring them and justifying changing them based off one game or one half, and even more so beyond that when he treats them like some final tablet on the state of the game today. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.
Raheem Sterling leaves England World Cup camp after armed burglary at Surrey home
Sterling did not feature in Sunday’s 3-0 win against Senegal and the FA said before the game that the Chelsea forward was “dealing with a family matter”.
Sources have confirmed armed burglars broke into Sterling’s home on Saturday night when his family were in.
Sterling was shaken up by news and, as soon as he learned about the incident, wanted to return home to check on the well-being of his three children.
Sterling has been determined to play a big role for England in Qatar and it is understood only his concern for his children pushed him to leave the squad and return home.
Asked whether he will figure for England again at the World Cup, Southgate said after the Senegal game: “We have got to wait and see.
“At the moment the priority is for him to be with him family and we are going to support that and him to have as much time as he needs.”
Pushed on the likelihood of Sterling returning to the England squad, Southgate said: “I really don’t know.
“At the moment it is a situation he needs time with his family to do deal with and I do not want to put him under any pressure. Sometimes football is not the most important thing and family should come first.”
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