BOX OFFICE BALLON D’OR

One of the most important days of the footballing calendar is firmly in sight. The 2021 Ballon D’Or ceremony is slated to take place tonight, at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. With there being no winner announced last year due to the covid-affected season, there is even more excitement surrounding who takes home the prize.

 

The Ballon D’Or ceremony begins at 8:30pm locally, which translates to 2:30pm Eastern Time (ET)/ 7:30pm GMT. It will be broadcasted live on Paramount+ for the viewers in the USA. People from the UK can follow it on Eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport App live. Furthermore, French football news outlet L’Equipe will also be showcasing the event live on their Youtube channel and website. Indian fans can tune into Star Sports Select 1 SD/HD along with Disney+ Hotstar.

 

Along with the respective Ballon D’Or prizes, the winners of the Kopa Trophy (best U21 player) and Yashin Trophy (best goalkeeper) will also be revealed. Names such as Jude Bellingham, Pedri, Jan Oblak, Edouard Mendy will be vying for the awards in their respective categories.

 

This year will also see the introduction of two new awards- Club of the Year and Best Goalscorer of the Year. Though there has not been any list of nominees announce for them yet and it remains to be seen who become the inaugural winners.

FootTheBall looks at the top three favourites for the Men’s and Women’s Ballon D’Or this year.

 

MEN’S BALLON D’OR

LIONEL MESSI

The heavyweight contender for a record-breaking seventh Ballon D’or, Messi has had another phenomenal year. He had 50 goal contributions (38 goals, 12 assists) as he single-handedly tried to mount an eventually unsuccessful title charge with Barcelona. However, the Blaugrana were able to win the Copa del Rey, and Messi would taste even more triumph with Argentina.

 

After numerous failures in the past, he was finally able to lead La Albiceleste to Copa America victory. Messi’s first international trophy came on the back of several stupendous man-of-the-match performances, led by four goals and five assists.

 

Having joined PSG in the summer, Messi has been a little slow of the blocks by his standards, hampered by niggly injury issues. Nevertheless, he has racked up four goals and four assists in league and European competitions.

 

JORGINHO

The European winner with club and country, it has been a fantastic season for the 29-year-old midfielder. He was Chelsea’s top-scorer in the Premier League with seven goals including one assist. In the Champions League, though he had just two goal contributions (one goal, one assist), he was a solid presence in the middle of the park.

 

Jorginho had 89% passing accuracy as well as 65% tackle success rate. With the Blues lifting the trophy for the second time in their history, he was off for Euro 2020 with Italy. The Azzurri were considered a quiet favourite for the title, and Jorginho formed an immaculate partnership with Nico Barella and Marco Veratti.

 

He featured in all seven games, and scored the winning penalty in the semi-final shootout win over Spain. Though he missed in the subsequent final shootout, Italy were still able to be crowned champions and Jorginho also picked up the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award as well.

 

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

The rightful winner of the 2020 Ballon D’Or (without debate). Lewandowski was on fire, enroute to breaking Gerd Muller’s scoring record this season.

 

41 goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga meant his first European Golden Shoe, and the Pole has shown no signs of slowing down. He has already hit 23 goals and two assists across all competitions, and is a hot contender for his first golden ball this year.

 

Moreover, he has 53 goals in this calendar year alone, which is more than any player across Europe. Though Poland had a disappointing Euro 2020 campaign, Lewandowski remains the shining light for strikers and his win will be very well-deserved.

 

WOMEN’S BALLON D’OR

JENNIFER HEROMOSO

The Spanish phenom had another wonderful season both individually and with the Blaugranes. Playing as a number nine, Hermoso scored 31 times in the Primera Division to lift her third consecutive Pichichi Trophy. Barcelona won the title and completed the treble as well.

 

Furthermore, Hermoso was also the top-scorer in the Women’s Champions League with six goals as they lifted their first continental crown. Hermoso also leads scoring in the Euro 2022 qualifying phase with 10 goals, cementing herself as one of the greatest scorers of the current era.

 

LIEKE MARTENS

The former FIFA and UEFA Player of the Year was another key component of Barcelona’s utter domination last season. Martens recorded 20 goals and 16 assists in all competitions and was one of the most involved players in the fiery attack.

 

Though she was used as a substitute towards the end of the Champions League campaign, that did not stop her from racking up some important contributions for her teammates. Furthermore, she set up five goals in three games enroute to the Copa de la Reina victory.

 

Martens also represented the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics, scoring four goals in the group-stage. However, she missed a game-winning penalty in the next round fixture against the USA and the Dutch were eliminated on penalties.

 

ALEXIA PUTELLAS

Barcelona’s captain had a solid season even with some matches being missed due to injuries. Putellas scored 18 times to go with her three goals in the Champions League. In the final, she scored her side’s second goal from the penalty spot before a spectacular through ball led to the game’s third goal

 

However, her best performances came in the cup competition where she scored a brace in each of the semi-final and the final. Her five goals in total made her the top goal scorer in the competition as well as the top scoring midfielder in Europe across all competitions (26 goals).

 

Putellas was also the recipient of the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year prize, and is the top contender to win the Ballon D’or as well.

 

Featured image courtesy: indianexpress.com

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