FIFA have again showed bias toward the very biggest clubs and nations in world football and snobbery towards the rest of the world as they released the 23-man nominees for the 2014 Ballon d'Or.
Take Iniesta for example, his 2014 was littered with inconsistency that transpired into Barcelona's shortcomings last season and Spain's failure in the World Cup.
Last weekend's El Clasico was a microcosm of this as he was outplayed by his modern day contemporary, Luka Modric. Modric was a candidate for man of the match and was quite possible Madrid's best player last season.
His fellow teammates got their accolades:
Cristiano Ronaldo - would have been nominated no matter what;
Angel Di Maria - man of the match in the Champions League final, World Cup Finalist and had a big money move;
Sergio Ramos - perhaps the world's most high profile defender and scored the equalising goal in the Champions League Final; Gareth Bale - scored winning Copa Del Rey wondergoal and put Madrid ahead for the first time in the Champions League Final;
Karim Benzema - had a good World Cup.
James Rodriguez - won Golden Boot in the World Cup and earned a mega move to Real Madrid.
Toni Kroos - won the World Cup.
All of the above collectively helped to make Real Madrid the best club in the world in 2014 and deserve their recognition, but so too did Modric, especially ahead of Iniesta. One gets the feeling Modric missed out due to having the smallest reputation out of the lot. Prior to the 2013-14 season, Modric arguably was level with Di Maria and Benzema; what Modric lacked was a big moment - Di Maria and Benzema got theirs and will probably live off that for the next few Ballon d'Or nominations - just as Iniesta did this year.
It is even arguable Xabi Alonso deserves a spot ahead of Toni Kroos. Kroos was a bit part of Bayern's Bundesliga winning 2014 and only really came into form during the World Cup. Alonso was part of a Real Madrid side that battered Kroos' Bayern 5-0 and has since become the Bundesliga's best player following a summer move. It appears a poor World Cup (a one month blip in an otherwise fantastic year) has cost him.
On the other hand, Ivan Rakitic has been an ever present in 2014. He was Sevilla's linchpin and put in a man of the match performance in the Europa League Final as Sevilla won the tournament. Such form granted him a move to Barcelona where Rakitic has been amongst the three best players for Los Cules this season. Furthermore, unlike Ibrahimovic, Rakitic played in the World Cup, where only poor officiating against Brazil kept Croatia from progressing past the group stage. The only reason Rakitic was not chosen for the 23-man Ballon d'Or nominations was his relatively small reputation.
Likewise, Sergio Aguero endured a injury hit 2014, that affected him up until August. Between January and July, if Aguero was not injured, he was woefully out of form. That Manchester City won the Premier League and Argentina ended up as World Cup runners-up was in spite of Aguero, not because of him.
On the other hand, Luis Suarez had been the driving force of Liverpool's title challenge in 2014. Despite being half-fit during the World Cup, he did more in one match than Aguero did in five for Argentina. At this stage, it appears Suarez's exclusion is more to do with politics (his bite against Chiellini counting against him).
Granted they were both indispensable members of the 2013-14 Atletico squad, so were Captain Gabi, Koke, Miranda and Godin. Earlier I mentioned Luka Modric lacking a big moment, well these three had those in abundance. Not only were Godin and Miranda a part of that season's best defence, they scored so many goals from set-pieces. Godin in particular scoring the winning La Liga goal and the opener in the Champions League final. Gabi and Koke were the architects of those and many others.
As good as Goetze, Hazard, Pogba and Schweinsteiger were (World Cup aside, Schweinsteiger has suffered immensely from injuries), surely the Atletico Madrid contingent had a better season's? Or are we as FIFA seem to think, suggesting Costa and Courtois dragged an 'average' side to the brink of a La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League treble?