- The great rulers, Messi and Cristiano, and the contenders for the throne, Haaland and Mbappé, are out of the Champions League. A change is coming in the Ballon d’Or.
Football always leaves few doors open to immutable certainties. Few beyond the one that says that if the ball crosses the line, it is a goal and we were not always clear whether the ball crossed the line or not. In the field of talents, domains and great promises, the debate is eternal and has no end. Perhaps these uncertainties are what make the game massive, international and on its way to being eternal.
The debate occupies hours between friends, experts, experts and media increased by one of the longest stages of individual domains in history with the alternation between Cristiano and Leo Messi. The closest thing to a certainty seems to come to an end with the unstoppable passage of time. Before his slow and brilliant start from the top, the world of football already saw in Haaland and Mbappé two worthy heirs of this struggle. The ball, judge and party in this dispute, has decided to get everyone off the big stage: the Champions League. At risk is both maintaining the reign and the passage of the golden witness that so many foresaw.
the curtain closed
Cristiano Ronaldo was the last to say goodbye to the great stage of the Champions League. The Portuguese decided to return to Manchester United in search of reviving past glories and the return is not being as expected. Without Sir Alex Ferguson, the absence of direction continues and the Portuguese has put everything on his side, but time asks for more and better company to squeeze all his talent.
Thus, he was signing an exemplary Champions League with a goal in each game but without being able to avoid the defeat in the first day against Young Boys and saving the furniture against Villarreal at home and in both games against Atalanta. Only at La Cerámica did he have a simpler encounter. Although the motivation was high and he was very involved in the round of 16, Cristiano was kept clean against Atlético de Madrid, one of his favorite rivals and the ones he had in his most recent memory thanks to the comeback in Europe with the Juventus. Simeone’s framework took him away from the area and Lodi sentenced his United. Although his numbers are not bad (18 goals, three assists), the season is not good enough to fight to be among the best. And less, after falling in Europe.
Messi and Mbappé fell at the same time and against Real Madrid. The Frenchman was the most outstanding man in the tie and fulfilled on the green with all the headlines fed in the previous one by the possible signing of him by Real Madrid. Kylian was torture coming down the flank and scored both Parisian goals in the round of 16. Until some canceled, in which he sat Courtois, which was left as an incomplete highlight. His good individual campaign (26 goals, 17 assists) favors him with the change in Ballon d’Or rules (the season will be valued and not the calendar year and more individual performance), but he will not be in the biggest games of the season. And that was the only and great objective of this pharaonic PSG project.
That’s why Messi arrived, who already as a PSG player won his seventh Ballon d’Or. One of the few joys of the year for Rosario who resists seeing the door more than ever (7 goals and 11 assists). His departure from the Champions League was harsh and even unfair in the assessment. Pochettino delayed his position and placed him as Mbappé’s pitcher, reaching less to the finish. He created chances and did a good job as a point guard, but the change in registration cost him criticism for not being as decisive. More producer (11 assists) than scorer (7 goals, only 2 in the League), Leo is far from the records that in previous years brought him closer to the award. The transition from Barcelona to Paris, this forced registration change (he plays further back), being without Champions at PSG and the fact that the World Cup does not enter for the concession of this next one reduces his options. If nothing goes wrong, he will add his first French Ligua 1.
Injuries are Haaland’s burden to make the leap in this fight for this campaign. Various ailments took him away from up to three games in the Champions League where he barely played a complete one (vs Ajax), another almost (vs Besiktas, a goal) and 27 minutes again against the Turks, against whom he signed a double. His absences in his fetish competition (there he shone with Salzburg) prevented Dortmund from being in the round of 16 and they ended up in the Europa League. Once again, injuries sidelined the Norwegian and he saw his side fall in the middle round against Rangers. Haaland could do little (203 minutes in Europe) to continue shining on the big stage. Despite the inconvenience, he adds good figures (21 games, 23 goals, six assists), although he only has the fight for the Bundesliga left, seven points behind Bayern. Another chosen for the change of witness who will have to prove his worth against the different German teams. The great lights that motivate him so much have been turned off until 22/23 for him. His return to the big stage is almost taken for granted that he will be of different colors than those of Dortmund.
Turn for the ‘forgotten’: Lewandowski, Benzema, Salah, Griezmann, De Bruyne…
Turn for the generation blocked by two historical talents like Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi and who feared for the opportunity before the brutal irruption of Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland. That generation of not-so-young people who could have one of their great exponents in Neymar, but whose opportunity to fight for the Gold will be for others who are also leaders and stand out greatly in their teams. A path that Luka Modric opened, the first to break the hegemony between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. For BeSoccer Pro, Lewandowski and Benzema are currently the best according to ELO, a final assessment based on statistical data. Both are the favorites of this ‘lost generation’.
The cancellation of the award due to the Covid-19 pandemic led Robert Lewandowski to remain the favorite when he was the best in the year of Bayern’s treble. The Pole appears, again, among the best placed to bathe in gold. 29 goals in 26 league games and a whopping 12 goals and three assists in a Champions League that has just closed its round of 16. Bayern are leaders and if they recover their best tone, a good performance in Europe could raise Lewy to the top, who is signing another season at the highest level. Everything, in addition, in front of Haaland.
Madrid has in Karim Benzema, once again, its greatest asset to continue adding Ballon d’Ors to its list. The Frenchman is the great leader of the white team and the comeback against PSG was the sublimation of his figure. This took a step forward after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and is the reference of the transition in Real Madrid. Karim is the top scorer for the LaLiga leader, top scorer (22 goals) and one of the top scorers in the Champions League, where he has proven to be decisive. 34 games, 32 goals and 13 assists is the perfect individual endorsement to be in the fight to follow in the footsteps of Luka Modric, who cannot be ruled out in this fight either. Collectively, at this point you can already add the League of Nations with France. LaLiga is on its way and in the Champions League, they have shown that the rival who wants to eliminate them cannot leave them even half an hour to live.
From England, two candidacies from champion and candidate, in addition to two strong rivals for the Champions League. Liverpool presents Mo Salah, who continues to delight in brilliant maturity. With Klopp he found the goal path and did not abandon it starting from the right. The Reds are on the hunt for Manchester City and are in the Champions League quarterfinals. In part, of course, thanks to Salah’s 28 goals and 10 assists. In Europe, he scores every 81 minutes (eight games, eight goals). The challenge is to maintain the average when the ball burns the most. Virgil Van Dijk, soul of the red team and essential to understand his return to the top, should be included in this list.
City, for its part, acts so collectively that it is difficult to opt for one. Although Joao Cancelo is signing a season at the level of the best, it is the career of Kevin de Bruyne that places him on this list. His Manchester derby was the peak this season in which he has ten goals and eight assists. The Belgian is an artist in direction and creation. City’s long-awaited Champions could crown him after a lost final in the most painful way: after leaving due to injury. The Belgian is the leader of one of the best teams in the world by game and results.
He lacks goals and perhaps more impact for Antoine Griezmann to be back in this fight, but Atlético’s progress in the Champions League and the already known level of Mâcon’s team give him, at the very least, the opportunity.
More to the list of heirs
If the absence of the kings leaves the throne vacant, that of the heirs allows more names to gain weight in the discussion. Two great candidates appear from Madrid with Vinicius Jr and João Félix, two great promises who are more and more stars present.
The Brazilian is more indisputable in Madrid than the Portuguese in Atlético, but it does not prevent them from signing confirmation seasons in the elite. Atlético’s 7 can be accused of a lack of numbers (8 goals, five assists), but the rojiblancos’ football has been changing for weeks. His headed goal that opened the tie was key to the pass against United and was also important in the second leg. Continuing in the Champions League assures him more minutes on the big stage. Although he will have to sweat to win them over with Simeone.
From the white margin of the capital, Vinicius has finally found the goal. Criticized for his failure in the definition, the Brazilian is finding the fruits of a job that he already started with Zidane and Ancelotti completes. The data (17 goals and 14 assists) place him among the best goal creators in Europe. His value already sounds galactic: 100 million euros.
Vlahovic will be left out of the list of candidates to be confirmed on a European stage in which he has just entered. At 22, his scoring explosion at Fiorentina has made him the new star of Juventus. Big words for the Serbian who made his Champions League debut against Villarreal and scored the goal that kept them in the tie. He was close to deciding it, but it was Gerard Moreno who showed that experience, here, is more than a degree. 24 goals, five assists and a good tie if they are worth it to present a first candidacy to the list of princes who are going to assault the throne. One that capricious football has decided to empty.