Fifa’s La Liga love-in: Premier League and Champions League success counts for nothing
Lionel Messi voted the Best men’s player and three Real Madrid players are named in the team of the year
Fifa’s La Liga love-in reached new heights on Monday evening at the annual Best Fifa Football Awards in Milan.
Not only did Barcelona’s Lionel Messi win the men’s player of the year award but the Fifa team of the year also contained three players from Real Madrid - in a season when they failed to win a major trophy and saw their coach sacked.
In contrast Manchester City, who won an unprecedented domestic treble in 2018-19 (the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup) were rewarded with no representation in Fifa’s XI of the year.
Seven Man City players had been included on the 55-man shortlist but none were deemed good enough, unlike the Real Madrid trio of Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Marcelo.
There was also no reward for Tottenham’s extraordinary run to the Champions League final, with Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min all overlooked.
Not since 2008 has an EPL star been crowned the top player in Europe, but three did make the team of the season: Eden Hazard of Chelsea and Liverpool’s Alisson and Virgil van Dijk.
Van Dijk denied
But it was the player of the year award that most people expected Van Dijk to win, after his dominant defensive displays helped Liverpool lift the Champions League trophy.
Instead it was Messi who triumphed with Van Dijk second and Cristiano Ronaldo third in the voting.
No one denies that the Argentine is one of the greats of all-time but a global award should be about his accomplishments on the international stage, not just the domestic league, and last season he was overshadowed in Europe by both Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax.
Messi scored 36 goals in La Liga but would he consistently manage such numbers in the much more competitive English Premier League?
“He hasn’t taken Barcelona to another level and won them the Champions League,” remarked Sky Sports pundits Paul Merson.
“You win it because you’ve done something special, which Van Dijk has done.
“Messi won it because they started [the awards] in 2016, and for the first two years, Cristiano Ronaldo won it and last year, Luka Modric won it. Now they’ve got to give it to Messi.”
Rapinoe wins women’s gong
United States star Megan Rapinoe was named the Best women’s player ahead of American team-mate Alex Morgan and England’s Lucy Bronze.
Rapinoe, 34, won the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup as the US lifted the trophy in France.
In a powerful speech Rapinoe, who is gay, highlighted racism, homophobia and inequalities in football, the BBC reports.
She said in Milan: “We have such an incredible opportunity being professional footballers, so much success, an incredible platform.
“I ask everyone here, lend your platform to other people, share your success. We have a unique opportunity to use this game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, do something, we have incredible power in this room.”
2019 Best Fifa Football Awards: all the winners
- Men’s player: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
- Women’s player: Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/United States)
- Men’s coach: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)
- Women’s coach: Jill Elliss (United States)
- Men’s goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool/Brazil)
- Women’s goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal and Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)
- Puskás Award: Daniel Zsori (Debrecen)
- Fan Award: Silvia Grecco
- Fair Play Award: Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United
Fifa Best teams of the year
FifPro Men’s World XI
- Goalkeeper: Alisson (Liverpool/Brazil)
- Defenders: Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax and Juventus/Netherlands), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands), Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil)
- Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax and Barcelona/Netherlands), Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Real Madrid/Belgium)
- Forwards: Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain/France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
FifPro Women’s World XI
- Goalkeeper: Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal and Atletico Madrid/Netherlands)
- Defenders: Lucy Bronze (Lyon/England), Wendie Renard (Lyon/France), Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg and Linkopings/Sweden), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals/USA)
- Midfielders: Amandine Henry (Lyon/France), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars/USA)
- Attacking midfielders: Marta (Orlando Pride/Brazil), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit/USA), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC/USA)
- Striker: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/USA)