FIFA World Cup is where some of the finest players from around the globe fight to win the most prestigious trophy for their country.
Sometimes those players succeed and sometimes they finish just short of the final glory. But that does not take away what they have done in the tournament. And for such players, FIFA has a special award in the World Cup – Golden Ball, which is awarded to the best player in the World Cup.
The list of previous Golden Ball winners is packed with legends. From Leo Messi in 2014 to Zidane, Oliver Kahn and Ronaldo in the past, Golden Ball has always been awarded to some of the Football’s greatest players.
But the Golden Ball is also infamously cursed! Why? The last player to win the Golden Ball and the World Cup in the same edition was Brazil’s Romario in 1994. Since then, the winner of the Golden Ball has failed to win the tournament. Ask Messi!
Players will be eager to break that streak in Russia. And we have listed five such players who can win the Golden Ball this year:
Mesut Ozil and Eden Hazard:
Ozil and Hazard are amongst the best in the world for sure. But they have not exactly set the stage on fire in EPL, which forces us to keep them out of this list. But take them for granted at your own peril.
Ozil is known for his crazy ability to find the teammate out of nowhere and given the strength of the German squad, he will be a huge threat to the opponents. Plus, there will be a huge difference between Ozil’s EPL team and his national team which will allow his teammates to bring out the best out of him.
Hazard did score 12 goals for Chelsea in the Premier League, but the winger was inconsistent in 2017-18. But put him in the squad with Kevin De Bruyne, Lukaku and Mertens and he will show us why Real Madrid are ready to spend €200m for him.
Paul Pogba is not new to the World Cup awards. The Frenchman won the award for the Best Young Player in 2014 edition. But this time, Pogba will have a more responsible role at the heart of the French team’s midfield to create chances for one of the best-attacking line-ups in the World Cup.
Manchester United midfielder has the ability to boss the midfield and with N’golo Kante in the defensive midfield, Pogba will have the freedom to run past the opposition’s defence without any defensive duties for himself (We’re looking at you, Mourinho). The 25-year old’s vision to unlock the defence with magnificent through balls will be a great asset for Les Bleus.
Contrary to popular belief, Pogba had a great season for Manchester United with 6 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League. But the midfielder will have to make sure that he stays consistent throughout the World Cup, unlike EPL, to have a shot at the Golden Ball.
Kevin De Bruyne:
Bagging 16 assists in the Premier League is not an easy task. But not only did De Bruyne achieve that feat, he did it with some class.
The Belgium midfielder is in the form of his life going into the World Cup and in Russia, he will be creating goals for Eden Hazard, Lukaku, and Mertens which makes him more dangerous than ever. Along with his pin-point passing, De Bruyne can also find the back of the net from long range and he proved that with 8 goals in the Premier League.
De Bruyne’s road to Golden Ball will not be easy as Belgium will have to face mighty opponents in the knockout stages to have any chance of reaching the final phase of the World Cup.
The Real Madrid player is currently the best midfielder around the globe, without any doubt. Kroos makes the game unbelievably easy for his teammates with his passing and by keeping the possession in difficult situations.
Low uses a modified version of Tiki-Taka where his team keeps the possession of the ball while continuously moving forward and trying to find the opening without wasting too much time in the opposition’s area. And that is where Toni Kroos is crucial for the Germans. He can find the gaps in the opposition defense with ease and also backs himself to find the back of the net from long range.
Kroos is also a specialist from the dead-ball situation and his corners will be threatening for the oppositions, with the likes of Hummels, Muller, and Khedira in the box. The 28-year old has 5 goals and 8 assists for Real Android this season, but his passing accuracy of 93.3% in 42 games in simply astonishing.
The German midfielder will definitely be a favorite to win the Golden Ball but he will have to fight not only the players from other countries but also some of his team-mates, like Muller and Ozil.
Just like the Golden Boot, Lionel Messi will ignore 10 more Golden Balls just to get his hands on the World Cup. But if Messi actually achieves his dream of winning the World Cup, Golden Ball will come along with it for the Argentine.
Everyone knows that Argentina is a one-man army by now. And Messi will have to be at his best for the 2-time winners to have any chance of winning the World Cup. And because he is Leo Messi, he is almost always at his best.
Messi won the Golden Ball in 2014 for his four goals and one assist, but more than statistics, Messi single-handedly dragged Argentine to the final against Germany. And this year doesn’t look any different, which increases Messi’s chances of winning the second consecutive Golden Ball. The Barcelona and Argentine talisman will also become the first player in the history to win two Golden Balls if he claims the award in Russia.
Please do not check Isco’s Real Madrid statistics after finding out that he is at the top of our list for the potential Golden Ball winner. Why? Because Isco in Spanish jersey and Isco in Los Blancos jersey are two very different players.
Isco loves to play the No. 10 role where he can roam around freely to create chances at will and find the back of the net out of absolutely nowhere. And although it is difficult at Real Madrid, there is no better team than Spain which suits his playing style. (Except Barcelona, of course)
And his role has made him Spain’s most important player for the World Cup. With the absence of a high-quality striker, Isco will also have the responsibility to score goals and his hat-trick against Argentina proved that he is more than capable of doing that.
With all due respect to the others on the list, Isco is my obvious pick for the Golden Ball in Russia. Get ready to witness some magic, folks!
Just like Golden Boot, no player actually thinks of winning the Golden Ball going into the tournament. But if you help your team achieve the glory in Russia, the Golden Ball is all yours and that is exactly what the above-mentioned players can do.