Given the somewhat obvious situation in football that if a team doesn’t score a goal, they can’t win a match, there is a degree of understanding as to why it is attack-minded players that dominate shortlists to be named the best player in the world.
Even so, it must still be regarded as some type of travesty that defenders and goalkeepers are so heavily ignored when it comes to announcing the winner of the Ballon d’Or.
Since 1996, Italian centre-half Fabio Cannavaro is the only defensive player to scoop the accolade, with Oliver Kahn, Gianluigi Buffon, Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini the only other four to even be named inside the top three in a respective year.
Upon the naming of the 23-man shortlist in 2013, there is unlikely to be much change from the norm, with Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer (100/1) the only goalkeeper in the running, while club colleague Philipp Lahm (100/1) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva (150/1) are the two defenders named.
There is certainly some space that could be created to allow for more defenders on the shortlist, after all Xavi and Andres Iniesta feature, despite fellow Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets arguably out-performing both in 2013.
The same could be said for Andrea Pirlo at Juventus, who is in ahead of Arturo Vidal, while it is strange to see Chelsea’s Eden Hazard on the list, bearing in mind he surely played to a consistently higher standard in 2012, when not making the shortlist?
In 2010/11, it is hard to fathom how Dani Alves was not given greater acclaim after 15 La Liga assists from defence.
This time the shock omission has to be Dante, who not only helped Bayern Munich win the Champions League, he was a key component of a record-breaking defence that conceded just 18 goals all season and gained a first international cap.
It should be remembered that before his arrival, Bayern went trophy-less in the 2011/12 campaign.
Individually, he was also mightily impressive, completing over 90 per cent of his passes, while the success rate of his tackling and heading was of a high standard.
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