The barely completed Ballon d'Or ceremony, where Messi got his seventh award, sparked fierce controversy among experts and fans. Opinions about the deservedness of the candidates' victory were divided, but in this article, we somewhat abstract these conjectures and theories. We invite you to recall the most intriguing confrontations of the primary individual awards in football, not in terms of general hype and impressions, but in the minimum gaps in the voting, which determined the fate of one or another winner.

Golden Ball 1986

Igor Belanov (Dynamo Kiev) 84 points

Gary Lineker (Everton Barcelona) 62 points

Igor Ivanovich Belanov became the second Ukrainian to win the leading individual award from France Football after Oleg Blokhin.

In the list of nominees for the Golden Ball that year, there were four representatives of the USSR at once Pavel Yakovenko, the goalkeeper of Moscow Spartak Rinat Dasaev, Alexander Zavarov, and, in fact, Igor Belanov.

What influenced Belanov's choice in 1986? First, Dynamo Kyiv became the champion of the Union for the 12th time, one point ahead of the namesakes from Moscow. In addition, the "white-blue" won the country's Super Cup, and most importantly, the Cup Winners' Cup.

In the Lyon final, the Ukrainian grand defeated the Madrid Atletico Luis Aragones with a certain Quike Setien in the squad with 3: 0. Belanov did not score in that meeting, but after his kick and Ubaldo Filol's save, Alexander Zavarov scored the first goal from Kyiv in the 5th minute. In addition, he, together with his DK comrades Zavarov and Blokhin and German Frank Lippmann from Dynamo Dresden, shared the top scorer in the tournament.

In the years of big tournaments, it is precisely the performances of certain players at the Euros or world championships that decide everything. Together with the club successes, it predetermined the victory of Igor Ivanovich over Gary Lineker.

If not victories in the KOK and the championship of the Soviet Union, then the Englishman could well take the prize for himself. In the 1985/86 season, he became the top scorer of the English Championship (30 goals) with the magnificent Everton, only two points behind the worst enemies from Liverpool in the final table. In addition, he shone at the Mexican World Championship, personally pulling the "three lions" into the playoffs.

The fact is that in the first round of the 86 World Cup group stage, the founders of football were minimally behind Portugal (0: 1), and then they painted a sensational zero match with Morocco, so the game with Poland, which was quite strong at that time, turned into a battle for survival. Survived! Lineker scored a hat-trick in the first half.

The national team of the Union looked no worse. A breakdown of Hungary with a score of 6: 0 (on the 25th minute, Belanov converted a penalty), combat draw with France (1: 1), and a victory over Canada led the team to the 1/8 finals.

It was there that the legendary confrontation with Belgium took place. Valery Vasilyevich Lobanovsky's team was one of the favorites of that tournament. Still, some inexplicable mistakes from traditionally disciplined guys in red shirts led to a sensational elimination in extra time (3: 4). Igor Belanov scored a hat-trick in that meeting, the only player to whom there can be no claims based on that ill-fated game.

And what about England? "Three Lions" managed to pass Paraguay in the first round of the playoffs (3: 0 with Lineker's double), then flew out from Argentina (1: 2, and again a goal was scored by striker Everton!).

In the club season, Gary did not take a single trophy. Still, in the summer of 1986, he went to Barcelona for promotion to his familiar mentor Terry Venables, and his scoring feats were delightful. By the way, if in those years it was allowed to present the award not only to Europeans but also to representatives of other continents, then there is not the slightest doubt that Diego Armando Maradona would have received the ZM.

The final victory of the representative of the USSR looked all the more incredible! Even the winner himself was bewildered. The last gap was only 22 points.

Golden Ball 1996

Matthias Sammer (Borussia Dortmund) 144 points

Ronaldo (PSV Barcelona) 143 points

Here is one of the most controversial awards in the award's history, which caused a lot of speculation and speculation.

Firstly, the award in the second went to the defender, which in general is by no means an ordinary event. Secondly, Matthias Sammer had a mega-worthy competitor in the person of "Critter" Ronaldo. The Brazilian legend will be mentioned later in this article, but for now, let's say a few words about why the German received the award in 1996.
The undisputed legend of Borussia Dortmund, now working in the Ruhr club as a consultant, shone brightly in the camp of the "bumblebees" in the 1995/96 season they defended their champion title obtained a year earlier under the leadership of Ottmar Hitzfeld and in the 96/97 campaign they were rapidly rushing to victory in the Champions League.

As for Ronaldo, the future icon of world football began to climb the world throne gradually. It was pointless to compare the trophy collection of both applicants that year since the Brazilian managed to win only the Dutch Cup and Super Cup as part of Eindhoven PSV. Still, his entry into the top three was not due to cups of different calibers.

In the 1995/96 season, "Zubastik" played only 21 matches for the Dutch team, but the statistics showed impressive - 19 goals and 15 assists! These numbers were enough for Barcelona to lure the future star to itself. The only year in Catalonia was phenomenal for the player. Ronaldo began to score from the first matches, so he ended that campaign.

Of course, the conquest of a silver salad bowl to Sammer was not enough for the final victory over the Brazilian, and here the European Championship in England intervened.

There, the German national team managed to win gold medals, defeating the Czech Republic in a dramatic final thanks to the "golden" goal of Oliver Bierhoff, and Matthias, in addition to playing flawlessly in defense, also helped Mannschaft to reach the semifinals, scoring the winning goal for future vice-world champions Croats. Ten years later, under similar circumstances, the award will be given to the defense leader of Juventus and the Italian national team, Fabio Cannavaro.

Golden Ball 2000

Luis Figo (Real Madrid) - 197 points

Zinedine Zidane (Juventus) - 181 points

In 2000, the question of the winner was incredibly acute. It was not clear who would eventually win the prize - Zinedine Zidane or Luis Figo until the very end.

Let's take a quick look at the reasons for both candidates. A brilliant club season in Barcelona spoke for the Portuguese, where Figo was the undisputed leader, having scored 14 + 17 goals + a pass in all tournaments during the season and reaching the semifinals of the European Championship with the "Mariners." Luis did not catch any trophies that year, which cannot be said about Zidane.

ZiZu's numbers in Juventus were much more modest, but this was not important since the influence of the French magician on the game of "zebras" was enormous.

Euro 2000 also turned out to be simply excellent for Zidane. Again, suppose you look exclusively at the dry statistics. In that case, you may get a false impression about the player's contribution to the victory of the French national team at that tournament. Still, those who saw Zinedine's fantastic game in Belgium and the Netherlands unanimously tell you without whom Le Blais definitely would not have taken the Henri Delaunay Cup then.

It is possible that the decisive argument in favor of his future teammate was not only and not so much a brilliant game, but an incredible media hype around the Portuguese. Yes, it was then that Luis Figo moved to Madrid, and it was in the status of a Real Madrid player that he received the Ballon d'Or. Doesn't it look like anything?

Golden Ball 2002

Ronaldo (Real Madrid) - 169

Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid) - 145

You will be surprised, but this is probably the only precedent when the Golden Ball went to some player solely for an incredible contribution to a major tournament. The fact is that Ronaldo risked not even going to the world championships in Japan and South Korea since he practically did not play football in the two years preceding the World Cup!

The 2000/01 season, as well as the lion's share of the previous season, the Brazilian completely missed due to a severe injury that risked putting an end to his career. In the 01/02 campaign, he played only 16 matches on the field, scoring seven times in Series A.

Nevertheless, Luis Felipe Scolari decided to take the striker to the World Cup and was right! Ronaldo made a stunning comeback at that tournament, noting the legendary hairstyle and a fantastic game. "Critter" scored in all matches at the World Cup in Asia, except for the quarterfinal duel with the British. There, another icon of sports No. 1 - Ronaldinho shouldered the burden of leadership.

The cherry on top and the most beautiful culmination was a double in the final match with Germany against Oliver Kahn, who finished third in the last 3M list.

Such an influence on the Brazilians' conquest of the World Cup could not go unnoticed so that Roberto Carlos. However, he was behind his compatriot by a small number of points, had a minimum chance of winning. It is curious that the "Critter," like Figo, took the Golden Ball after moving to Real Madrid.

Ballon d'Or 2019

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) - 686

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) - 679

Finish with an impressive and intriguing 2019 race between Leo Messi and Virgil van Dyck. We will not write too much, since you remember everything.
Finish with an impressive and intriguing 2019 race between Leo Messi and Virgil van Dyck. We will not write too much, since you remember everything.

The organizers of the award once again showed that the criteria for their assessment are very vague. After the well-deserved victory of the shadow hero Luka Modric, who lost to Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring statistics, but not in contribution to team successes, a year earlier they gave the prize to the Argentine, in the 2018 season / 19 who took only the Spanish championship.

In contrast, Virgil van Dijk won the long-awaited Champions League with Liverpool, by the way, simultaneously "eating" Leo and the company in the semifinals (the legendary 4: 0 at Anfield), and also took the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. In addition, he has never been dribbled in a year and has established several other achievements.

Nevertheless, most voters appreciated Messi's equally deserved influence on Barcelona's results, evidenced by the player's impressive statistics at the end of the calendar year.

The number of final points shows how difficult the choice faced the voters of France Football that year.