The season of 2019-20 was a lit affair until the winter transfer window of January got completed. Until then the games were running, few teams were struggling and few other teams were cruising towards the title. However, with the pandemic coronavirus outbreak all across Europe and the rest of the world, the beautiful game of football has come into a halt.
Since February has set in, there have been changes in the field. The unbeaten run of Liverpool towards the Premier League title came to a dramatic end when Nigel Pearson’s Watford defeated with a scoreline of 3-0. On the other hand, their dream of winning the domestic FA Cup also went in ruins after Chelsea bossed them at Stamford Bridge. Rubbing the salts on the wounds of Merseysiders, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid sprang a surprise in the Champions League knockout stage where they brought the 442 days unbeaten streak of Liverpool into the stay.
If this is the story from England, the Spanish league has some separate story. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Blancos had not won the El Classico at all. Also, Lionel Messi led side had never lost the El Classico at Santiago Bernabeu since 2014. However, Vinicius Jr led the Zidane’s side to the victory which eventually led them to the top of the table where the battle is very intense. However, Real Madrid then lost to Real Betis allowing Barcelona to climb on top of the table again.
If these were the story of football, the story of coronavirus is different. Starting in the Wuhan province of China, the virus outbreak started spreading slowly. Then it stretched into Italy where the players started getting affected because of the virus which led to the suspension of all tiers of Italian football. The story doesn’t end here. The virus slowly started creeping into the rest of Europe affecting the nature of the game. The games were started to be played behind the closed doors in the absence of fans. However, with Real Madrid isolating its players from the rest, La Liga got suspended. On the other hand, Mikel Arteta, Arsenal manager, and Chelsea’s attacking midfielder, Callum Hudson Odoi tested positive for the coronavirus which led to the suspension of English Premier League. After observing these, the European elite football body, UEFA also suspended its fixtures.
Why are we discussing these here? The answer is simple. Who will be crowned as the Ballon d’Or winner if the leagues across the world fail to conclude? Last season, Lionel Messi has crowned the trophy after he edged out Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk who was pivotal in Liverpool’s Champions League challenge. However, this season has been because of strikers and probably this year also, a striker or a forward will be crowned as the potential winner. Here are the top five candidates to win the Ballon d’Or:
#5) Kylian Mbappe
Former AS Monaco prodigy has grown bounds after he moved to the French capital. The player has grown into such a stature where his name commands into the list. The time is not so far from winning the Ballon d’Or and his potential can lead the player to win the title in a season or two.
Considered as a poster boy, the player has carried the French outfit on his shoulders on multiple occasions which have allowed him to score 18 goals in the French top tier. Apart from that, Paris St Germain is way ahead in Ligue 1 and have qualified for the last eight stages in the Champions League 2019-20. Making a big name for himself on the big occasions, the player has racked up nine assists to his name. Will these credentials be enough to challenge Messi-Ronaldo rivalry? Only time can tell.
#4) Kevin de Bruyne
The Belgian midfielder has been the heartthrob of the Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s midfield. The player has been the engine which drives the Manchester City and has played a crucial role in their title victory over the past two seasons. Though they are unable to get the same this season, it can be credited to de Bruyne’s injury recovery in the initial part of 2019-20 season.
The 28-year old Kevin de Bruyne has appeared in 25 games for Manchester City in Premier League and has missed 2-3 matches for the Cityzens across all the competitions for the side. In the Premier League, the player has 16 assists to his name along with 8 goals. Being the midfield magician for the side, he has a pass percentage close to 82 per cent though he risks the chances of losing the possession while initiating the attack.
Apart from these stats in Premier League, the player has been sensational in Manchester City’s European challenge. Until the season has been suspended, de Bruyne has played a vital role helping Manchester City to gain the away advantage against Real Madrid.
Can the leading assist provider of Premier League challenge and rival the likes of Ronaldo and Mbappe?
#3) Robert Lewandowski
The Polish striker is dominating German football and nowadays it is considered very normal if Bayern Munich wins the league. And if they fail to do so, the season is considered a failure.
Always considered as an underdog in any race, Robert Lewandowski has reached next level this season. The player has banged in 50 goals this season across all competitions for both club and international team. He has also racked up seven assists for his teams in a total of 2840 minutes on the pitch.
These stats have helped Bayern Munich to recover their lost ground in Bundesliga and has also helped to reach the last-8 stage of Champions League.
#2) Cristiano Ronaldo
The Juventus ace had a slow start to his career at Turin until some point came where he started to bang in the goals. The player has been phenomenal this season in Serie A for Bianconeri but that won’t suffice to win the Ballon d’Or.
The Portuguese international has found the net 21 times in Serie A for Turin based outfit. Apart from these, he has found the net 16 more times on several occasions like Coppa Italia, UEFA Nations League, Champions League etc. Also, the player has three assists to his name along with a pass percentage close to 84 per cent. But will these be enough to dodge his rivals and win the trophy for himself?
#1) Lionel Messi
The Argentine living legend once again tops the list with his performance this season. The player has been absolute sensation once again and has been driving the Barcelona‘s title charge with high energy and productivity in his role. The player has never disappointed his side and fans barring one or two occasions like Copa del Rey semifinal and El Classico.
In the 21 appearances in the Spanish top tier for the Catalans, the player has 19 goals and 12 assists. Also, the player has 29 goals to his name across all the competitions. Apart from these, Argentine has around pass completion percentage of 83% which is great for a player who is playing all the cups without a break.
The question remains is can Lionel Messi retain the Ballon d’Or or will it be a new player who can take away from him?