A few months ago I wrote an article detailing how Franck Ribery deserved to win the Ballon D'or, but was going to be robbed of it due to FIFA's slant towards forwards. What I did not foresee was how FIFA would be biased towards teams with bigger reputations.
I am referring to the above picture which details the players FIFA thought were the best in the world in the year 2013. Despite Bayern Munich winning the treble, thrashing Barcelona 7-0 along the way, Barcelona outnumber Bayern 4-3. Barcelona may have won La Liga last year, but much of that was down to their work in 2012, plus the fact Real Madrid had a terrible ending to 2012, effectively putting them out of the title race by 2013 and also that Atletico Madrid could not keep up and had a mediocre 2013. When it truly mattered, Barcelona froze on the big stage (Champions League semi-final) and the performances of the
Looking at the Barcelona players that made it into the team: Dani Alves, Xavi and Lionel Messi, arguably none of them deserve to be there. Alves has been on the decline for the past few years and last season was his worst since he became world class at Sevilla. It has been a while since he has worn the title of the world's best right back and such is his plight, for much of 2013, deputy right back Martin Montoya became Barcelona's first choice right back for a while.
As for Xavi, what business he has being in this first eleven is beyond me. 2013 has been confirmed as the year Xavi has finally regressed from his peak. Against Bayern Munich and Brazil, Xavi found himself bullied off the ball and was a candidate for the worst player on the pitch. His agility is on the wane and as it depreciates, his ability to evade challenges and dictate the game with one-two's goes with it.
Finally, as for Messi, he may have scored a ton of goals but they did not amount to anything in 2013. In fact, 2013 was the year we fans finally realised Barcelona are still able to function at a high level without Messi. They won La Liga without him full fit for a duration of 2013, and they lead it La Liga again (albeit on goal difference). Further proof of this is this article from Goal.com which exclaims the independence Barcelona have gained from Messi's injury crisis in 2013. By all means Messi had a great 2013 (from an individual perspective), but lets not act as though he did much to help Barcelona's cause in 2013.
2013 was an all conquering year of Bayern and left back Alaba was a massive factor. The fact FIFA have Lahm at left back - a position he has not played in (club or country) for a very long time, you begin to wonder whether the football players and journalists who vote in these things actually watch football!
The fact Nicklas Bendtner did not know how Arshavin was prior to him signing for Arsenal, or Mario Balotelli whilst playing for Manchester City failed to know who Jack Wilshere was says it all.
It may seem a bit hypocritical putting in Gundogan after taking out Messi due to an injury prone 2013; however, Gundogan was a conduit for Dortmund during their Champions League run in 2013. Without him it is doubtful Dortmund would have gotten has far as they did. He was man of the match against Real Madrid in the second leg and scored a penalty in the final. As he has been injured during most of the second half of 2013, Dortmund's plight has been obvious for all to see; they struggled to progress through their group and are struggling to finish fourth in the Bundesliga. Now that he is back, expect Dortmund to flourish in the Champions League.
As for Lionel Messi, in his place should be Luis Suarez. He has been absolutely out of this world in 2013. Of course as voting ended by November 29th (another reason why I hate these awards) and the very best of Suarez's form came after that date - his four goals against Norwich and the Tottenham demolition came in December.
In Suarez's place should be Arjen Robben. Injured for most of 2012, he came back in 2013 in style. He scored twice against Barcelona in the semi-final, then in the final itself, he assisted Mandzukic for the first goal, before slotting away the winner. He has continued that form by scoring 13 goals in 19 club appearances. Arguably Thomas Muller has been more consistent during this period, but Robben's man of the match performance against Dortmund in the Champions League final earns him a spot on my team.
The only other position I have to dispute is Sergio Ramos's inclusion. He was often upstaged by Varane in the earlier part of last 2013 and in the latter half of this season, his partnership with Pepe (Varane has injured for most of 2013) has seen Madrid concede 21 goals in La Liga. In his place should come in Dante. Plucked from Borussia Mongladbach on a free transfer last season, he has shown himself to be an assured defender who is brilliant at positioning himself.
With four changes made to the team, FIFA need to make change the way the voting goes in these awards. Far too often they are farcical and only help to promote those with large reputations.
If the annual FIFA awards are to be taken as a legitimate way of accurately judging how well a player has performed in the calender year, FIFA need to strip players and manager of their voting rights. Far too often there is political voting and it messes up who should be recognised.
According to Goal.com: Cristiano Ronaldo voted for Radamel Falcao to win the Ballon D'or - obviously a thinly veiled jab at Messi and Ribery because Falcao in 2013 has been average. His form dipped when he was with Atletico Madrid at the beginning of 2013 - their dependency on him meant as his form dropped, as did Ateltico's. Now that Diego Costa is leading the line, Atletico now have a more rounded striker and it is evidenced by the amount of goals they are scoring as team. Furthermore, Falcao's form at Monaco, whilst respectable, is not setting the world alight.
To reiterate, Ronaldo voting for Falcao was nothing more than a political vote. Further proof is the fact they both share the same agent - Jorge Mendes. Ronaldo also voted for current team mate Gareth Bale in second and former team mate and good friend Mesut Ozil in third - coincidence? I think not.
Lionel Messi was not excempt from tactical voting, his top free were: Iniesta, Xavi and Neymar.
Elsewhere Buffon voted for Andrea Pirlo, yes Pirlo. Case closed.