Modric’s Ballon d’Or win confirms Laliga as world’s best league

Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric kisses the trophy after receiving the 2018 Men’s Ballon d’Or award for best player of the year during the 2018 Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris on December 3, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won the 2018 Ballon d’Or, becoming the first player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the award in more than a decade.

Modric, 33, won his third successive Champions League in May before helping Croatia to a first World Cup final.
Former Brazil and AC Milan forward Kaka, in 2007, was the last player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win it.

Ronaldo, who joined Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer, came second, while Barcelona forward Messi finished fifth, with Atletico Madrid frontman Antoine Griezmann and PSG attacker Kylian Mbappe – both of whom won the World Cup with France – third and fourth respectively.

Victory caps a stellar year for Modric, who also was named the world’s top male player at the Best Fifa Football Awards and received the Golden Ball award for the best player at the World Cup.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Modric dedicated the award to all of the other players who have missed out in the 10 years dominated by Messi and Ronaldo.

“Maybe in the past there are some players who could have won the Ballon d’Or like Xavi, Andres Iniesta or [Wesley] Sneijder but people finally now are looking at someone else,” he said.

For the past 10 years, the best footballer of each calendar year has been playing for a Spanish club. They call the LaLiga their home.

The Ballon d’Or award for the best player in each calendar year has been running since 1956 and the prize has been given to a Spain-based player on 22 occasions, this year going to Real Madrid’s midfielder Luka Modrić.

The Croatian finished top of the podium, ahead of his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

This is the 11th time that a Real Madrid player was crowned the best in the world, after the 1957 and 1959 triumphs of Alfredo Di Stéfano, the 1958 victory for Raymond Kopa, Luis Figo’s win in 2000, Ronaldo Nazário’s 2002 success, Fabio Cannavaro’s recognition in 2006 and the wins for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Like Real Madrid, Barcelona have also boasted 11 Ballon d’Or winners. They celebrated it in 1960 with Luis Suárez, in 1973 and 1974 with Johan Cruyff, in 1994 with Hristo Stoichkov, in 1999 with Rivaldo, in 2005 with Ronaldinho and in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 with Lionel Messi.

In total, LaLiga clubs have claimed 22 victories, far ahead of the 18 notches for Serie A, the nine of the Bundesliga, the six of the Premier League or the one of Ligue 1.

More impressive for LaLiga, Spanish clubs have now had the winning player in each of the past 10 years.

Apart Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2008 while still at Manchester United, the winner of the award since then have been playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid.

Ronaldo has lifted the prize another four times with Real Madrid, Messi has delivered five of the golden balls to Barcelona’s museum and Modrić has now ensured that the award stays in Spain.

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