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What impact will the 2022 Qatar World Cup have on the Ballon d’Or

  • reporter 

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be a major starting point for a player to put his name on the map for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award. 

With football’s heavily anticipated awards ceremony now taking place in October based on a season rather than a year, and the unprecedented winter World Cup, the impact a good tournament will have on the award is very different to the past. 

The award has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the last 13 years, with only Luka Modric interrupting that run in 2018 – a success his country Croatia’s runners-up performance in Russia impacted strongly.  

Ronaldo and Messi’s era of dominance was like no other – they are the only two players to win the award on more than three occasions. However, initial signs suggest that time is coming to an end with seven-time winner, Messi, not included on the list of nominees for the 2022 award after scoring just six Ligue 1 goals in 2021/22 following his move to Paris Saint-Germain. 

He will hope a successful World Cup campaign can see him return to being among the favourites for an eighth award in 2023, after all, he has started the 2022/23 season much better – with seven goals in 12 games. 

Meanwhile, his arch-rival, Ronaldo, has been out-of-favour under new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag and may be relying on his performances for Portugal to keep his name in the frame. until January at least. 

Ronaldo’s former teammate Karim Benzema has emerged as the favourite for the 2022 award. A success that would see him reach the top three for the first time in his career. The 34-year-old has always been full of talent and goals, but only now, perhaps with the spotlight away from Ronaldo and Messi, particularly in Spain, has he started to receive the credit for it. 

Messi himself has backed his former rival for the award, telling TyC Sports: “I think this year there is no doubt. It’s clear that Benzema has had a spectacular year. 

“He crowned this year with the Champions League, in which he was decisive in every game from the round of 16. I don’t think there is any doubt this year.” 

Should he win the 2022 award, he will be the first French Ballon d’Or winner since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.  

Continuing from that, a big World Cup with holders France this winter would contribute to him hitting the frame early for 2023. 

Obvious candidates for the 2023 award include Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland and Vinicius Jr. 

One of those players – Erling Haaland – will not have the advantage of playing in the World Cup to stake his claim on the Ballon d’Or after Norway failed to qualify, however, given his freakish start to the season with new club Manchester City, must be the standout candidate as things stand.  

Haaland has already scored three hat-tricks in the Premier League this season, including in the Manchester derby. 

His closest competitor will perhaps come in the form of Kylian Mbappe. Unlike Haaland, Mbappe is likely to star in Qatar with France fancied to go far in their attempts to defend their crown. 

Mbappe shined in 2018, scoring four goals, including in the final, and assisting another. He will go into the tournament full of confidence having scored 11 in 12 club games this season. 

Meanwhile, Real Madrid winger Vinicius Jr has started the season in excellent form after scoring the winner in the 2021/22 Champions League final. The Brazilian will be looking to help bring World Cup success back to the five-time winners, who haven’t lifted the trophy since 2002. 

A successful tournament and a continuation of his form under Carlo Ancelotti in Madrid could have him right up there. 

In November 2021, Ancelotti, now a four-time Champions League winning manager, spoke of Vinicius’ credentials, as quoted by ESPN: “Of course Vinicius has all the quality to fight to win it one day.  

“He doesn’t feel like a star, he’s still humble, that’s one of his best qualities.” 

So, how much does the World Cup weigh on Ballon d’Or success? In truth, not much recently, but that is perhaps owed more to Ronaldo and Messi with Portugal and Argentina lacking real success in the competition. 

Before they started playing hot potato with the award in 2008, Zinedine Zidane (1998), Ronaldo (2002) and Fabio Cannavaro (2006) were all successful in World Cup years following France, Brazil and Italy’s triumphs. 

The 2022 World Cup will prove interesting in the result of the 2023 Ballon d’Or with it set to become clearer as to whether those individual performances will carry on holding more weight, as with Ronaldo or Messi, or whether the award will once again become more reliant on a World Cup showcase to decide its winner.  


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