There is no individual award more prestigious than the Ballon d’Or in world football. Only the best of the best have ever won it and it is something that top-class footballers dream of constantly. Ever since Sir Stanley Matthews won the inaugural award in 1956, the France Football prize is a staple in the football calendar and even though we are months away from the 2023 ceremony, the Ballon d’Or odds are already leaning towards one person. One very familiar face to be exact.
Before we reveal the 2023 Ballon d’Or odds, there is one very important question to answer to understand what has changed regarding the award.
Until now, we knew the Ballon d’Or to be a calendar-year award. It has been like that for nearly seven decades. But the fact that the World Cup was held mid-season changed things, maybe for the better. From now on, the Ballon d’Or will recognise the best player of the season. The normal football season as we know it, from August to May. So the 2022 World Cup will normally count in the vote. Which means…
With 7 awards to his name, Lionel Messi is the face of the Ballon d’Or. Along with his long on-pitch rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, they have monopolized the biggest award in football, winning a total of 12 awards out of 13 from 2008 to 2021 (Modric broke the pattern in 2018, while no award was given in 2020).
Messi’s heroics in Qatar, when we won Argentina its third World Cup, cannot be forgotten. He was the leader, the driving force, the ultimate star of an Argentina team that lived the dream. A dream so big for Messi himself, who has said that he could exchange all of his Ballon d’Or victories for a single World Cup. He won’t have to make that trade.
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Messi is the favourite by quite a margin, according to the biggest football betting sites. He is followed by his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe had an equally as great World Cup campaign and if the penalty shootout would have gone differently, then the odds would be flipped.
What would it take for Mbappe to win the Ballon d’Or in front of Messi? Well, even if PSG won the Champions League, the Argentinian would get a share of that glory as well. So the hypothetical scenario that awards Mbappe would go something like that: Paris Saint-Germain wins everything that is to be won with Mbappe being as dominant as it gets, while Messi is a mere mortal. But can you demote Messi to being mortal?
From then on, odds get really high. For Erling Haaland to win it, Manchester City has to win everything with him continuing to score as he does. And still, during a World Cup year, is it enough? The same is the case for Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema, Kevin De Bruyne, and Mohamed Salah. Is it worth it taking a risk? Even when discussing welcome bonus betting, it might no be worth it.
Shifting the award from a calendar-year deal to a season-end event was not the only change implied by FIFA and the France Football magazine. Until 2021 all FIFA members were allowed to vote, but officials saw that those lower-ranked countries were heavily favouring the big names (namely Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo), so now the award committee is slightly more exclusive.
The national team coaches, the national team captains, and one journalist from each of the top 100 countries according to FIFA rankings are eligible to vote. They fill in a ballot with their top five choices, awarding points.
The point system works as follows:
First: 6 Points
Second: 4 Points
Third: 3 Points
Fourth: 2 Points
Fifth: 1 Point
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