The Ballon d’Or 2019 will be awarded in a few hours as Lionel Messi is the super-favourite to be bestowed the honour of the best footballer in the world by France Football for a record sixth time.
While the Argentine has won it six times, there are some incredible players of this millennium who never got to win the award even when they deserved it. With that in mind, here is a playing XI in a 4-3-3 formation consisting of those players.
4. Goalkeeper – Iker Casillas
This one was a highly difficult decision given that Gianluigi Buffon also dominated this era in goal. However, the tie-breaker between Iker Casillas and the Italian legend is their effectiveness in the trophy-winning campaigns for their respective teams.
In terms of trophies, Casillas has won every possible trophy possible for a footballer – except for the Confederations Club. Buffon, meanwhile, has never lifted the Champions League nor the Euros with Italy, which is why the Spaniard pips the legendary Italian.
Even with so many accolades to his name, however, Casillas has never been bestowed with the honour of the Ballon d’Or. He was instrumental in every trophy-laden campaign for both Spain and Real Madrid, which is why he finds himself on this list.
Only one defender has won the Ballon d’Or in this millennium, which is why it is quite easy to name four players here. The right-back here has to be none other than Philipp Lahm.
The German won almost every trophy there was to win at both club and international level and was one of the most consistent right-back of his team. His full-back partner is none other than Marcelo.
While the Brazilian may not be the best defensively, he is arguably the greatest attacking left-back of all time. His contribution to Real Madrid’s trophy-winning campaign is unprecedented for a full-back and he has been active for a good part of this decade.
At centre-back, the pairing of Alessandro Nesta and Carles Puyol seems like an unbreakable partnership. Where Puyol is the no-nonsense passionate leader in defence, Nesta provides the elegance and precision in the backline.
There are so many candidates for the three spots here that it would be unfair to a lot of players who are not named here. In defensive midfield, Xabi Alonso takes the spot.
The midfield maestro was an exceptional passer of the ball and was also a genius when it came to blocking zones defensively. Just ahead of him in central midfield are Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Pirlo.
The Spaniard and the Italian were two of the greatest midfielders of this era as they were not only the dictators of the temp in midfield but were also highly disciplined tactically.
There have been some legendary attackers in the modern era, which is why it is quite hard to choose three even though the best ones have been awarded the Ballon d’Or.
However, there were some who missed out and one among them was Samuel Eto’o. One doesn’t need to explain how good the former Cameroon star was. He helped Barcelona to a treble in 2009 and then achieved another treble with Inter the following year.
He might as well have won the Ballon d’Or if his best years didn’t coincide with that of Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi and he takes the left-wing. Meanwhile, for the right-forward, Arjen Robben edges past the other.
The Dutchman had some of his best years at Bayern Munich and became one of the most effective players on the right. Finally, the striker’s spot goes to Raul. He is the perfect candidate for the role of the number 9 since he was one of the best withdrawn forwards of his time who was not only a great scorer but also brought his teammates into the play.
For some, he should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2001 instead of Michael Owen but, unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be.