World Cup performances certainly play a role in the Ballon d’Or nominations. Only because Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were ruthless for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively in 2010 and 2014, none of the World Cup performers were able to win it.
However, 2018 is a lot different. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona crashed out of the UEFA Champions League is the quarterfinals and Ronaldo’s Real Madrid finished third in La Liga. Though Ronaldo lifted his third Champions League title in a row, he was not at his consistent best.
Also, both Argentina and Portugal were knocked out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the round of 16. Hence, the possibility of a Ballon d’Or winner other than Messi and Ronaldo is on the cards this year. No one other than these two have won the award in the last 10 years and such is the domination of the duo when it comes to Ballon d’Or.
Without much ado, let’s take a look at the five World Cup stars who could break Messi and Ronaldo Ballon d’Or dominance this year:
#5 Luka Modric
Croatians advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup after beating Denmark on penalties. They are playing well and has won all their games in the tournament so far. They will take on the host Russia in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
One of the standout players for Croatia in the World Cup is the Real Madrid star, Luka Modric. Luka Modric was phenomenal for Real Madrid in the 2017/18 campaign and led them to their third successive UEFA Champions League win.
The 32-year-old has scored two important goals in the tournament so far. Captaining his country in the tournament, Modric has been phenomenal in the first four games for Croatia. If he can lead Croatia to glory in the World Cup, he could most likely land the prestigious Ballon d’Or award this year.
#4 Kevin de Bruyne
The 27-year-old is one of the best midfielders in the world right now. The Manchester City and Belgium superstar was instrumental for Pep Guardiola in their Premier League 2017/18 title win.
Kevin de Bruyne has scored 12 goals and assisted 20 more for Manchester City during the 2017/18 season. He was one of the best passers in Premier League last season and has created a lot of goals for this team.
He has played a key role in Belgium’s qualifying campaign and was superb in the group stages at the World Cup. He has so far assisted one goal in the tournament and played a perfect foil to Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard. A title win for Belgium could get his first Ballon d’Or award.
#3 Harry Kane
Harry Kane simply can’t stop scoring goals at the moment. He was exceptional for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this season with 30 goals and continued his good form in the World Cup. He also struck seven goals in the Champions League and four in the FA Cup.
The Three Lions are in the quarter-finals of the tournament, thanks in most part to the brilliance of their captain Harry Kane. With seven goals, the 24-year-old is the top scorer in the tournament right now and playing beautifully.
He played 3 games in the World Cup so far and scored in all of them, which included a stunning hat-trick against Panama. He is the key to England’s World Cup hopes and could most certainly win the Ballon d’Or if he manages to lift the World Cup trophy.
#2 Kylian Mbappe
He is arguably the most lethal teenager in the 2018 World Cup. The Paris Saint-Germain star was brilliant for his club in the 2017/18 campaign. Kylian Mbappe has scored 21 goals and assisted 11 more for PSG this season.
Given the responsibility of leading the line for his country in the 2018 World Cup, the 19-year-old did not disappoint. He scored a goal against Peru in the group stage and was brilliant against Argentina in the round of 16 with a stunning brace.
Les Bleus are one of the strong favorites to win the title this year and playing really well at the moment. A couple of more goals and a World Cup win will certainly put him in the driver seat to win the Ballon d’Or award this year.
Neymar could possibly do the one thing that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have failed to accomplish in their respective careers. He is looking strong and determined now, and has every chance to win the World Cup for Brazil.
Though he missed the last three months of the season because of an injury, he has played some sublime football in the World Cup. He has already scored two goals and assisted one more for Brazil in the tournament.