Since 2008 Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have grabbed all the Ballon d’Or awards. The Argentine has won an unprecedented five, while the Portuguese has finished atop the podium thrice. But what if the duo weren’t part of their clubs and they still went on to win all the trophies they won since 2008. Who would win the Ballon d’Ors in those years?
Ronaldo was at Manchester United at the time as they went on to win the Champions League and the domestic league double. He was the standout player for the Reds with no one else coming close. Barcelona missed out on every trophy. That same season Iker Casillas won his only Zamora trophy for a series of stupendous performances in goal; he had a great shot at taking the Ballon d’Or.
That year Messi won his first Ballon d’Or as Barcelona swept all the major trophies, for an unprecedented sextuple. Xavi Hernandez was the midfield lynchpin in Pep Guardiola’s plans and would have taken the Ballon d’Or.
Messi claimed his second straight Ballon d’Or, but this remains one of his most contentious awards. Barcelona had won the league title, but Inter Milan went on to win a historic treble of the league title, the domestic cup and the Champions League with Wesley Sneijder being the star of the team. He also helped the Netherlands national team to the final of the World Cup in South Africa. He was a great shout for the Ballon d’Or.
Barcelona were imperious in the 2010/11 season, winning the league and the Champions League double. The Catalan outfit played some unbelievable football in the European Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. Xavi was at the top of his game throughout the season and in that final. He would have taken home the individual honour.
In the 2011/12 campaign Real Madrid arrested Barcelona’s grip on the Spanish title and Chelsea claimed the Champions League in a surprise win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Despite Los Blancos’ title win there weren’t many consistent performers of note. Judging primarily on consistent individual performances the award may as well have gone to Andres Iniesta.
Bayern Munich claimed the treble of the league title, the domestic cup and the Champions League – the first ever for a Bundesliga side. Under the stewardship of Jupp Heynckes they were unplayable at times and hammered Barcelona 7-0 over the two legs of their Champions League semi-final. Franck Ribery was the team’s lynchpin and deserved the Ballon d’Or.
The 2013/14 campaign was another great one for German players at Bayern Munich. After winning the domestic double under Guardiola they went on to win the World Cup in Brazil. Manuel Neuer had a huge part to play in the success of both the teams and he has every right to feel aggrieved after being denied the Ballon d’Or.
Barcelona became the first team in history to win two trebles. They did it on the back of some stellar displays from the frontline of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. Suarez racked up goals and assists with impunity and would have deserved the Ballon d’Or.