Lionel Messi bagged the eighth Ballon d’Or of his career as he stepped up on to the stage to receive the award for 2023 after his incredible campaign in the 2022 World Cup with Argentina as they beat France in the finals.
The Argentine beat Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to the award, who came second and third, respectively.
Real Madrid’s closest entrant in the list was Vinicius Jr in fifth place, followed by Luka Modric in 10th, and Karim Benzema in 16th. Jude Bellingham also finished in 18th place, but his ranking was based on his tenure with Borussia Dortmund and England.
The Madrid club hosted the trophy last year, though, with Benzema lifting it after winning the UEFA Champions League and La Liga.
Los Blancos may have missed out on the trophy this year, but they are confident that one of their players will be lifting it in 2024, as per a report by AS.
Bellingham and Vinicius are the main candidates from Madrid, with the former in exceptional form since he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Brazilian, on the other hand, has started this season slowly, but has been among the best players in the world across the last couple of seasons, and could easily rejoin that list as the campaign goes on.
Further, Madrid also not discarded the option of singing one or both of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, as per previous reports. One of them is expected to be among the winners very soon, taking over from Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi’s rivalry.
The Madrid camp at the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris did not return empty-handed, though.
Bellingham won the Kopa Trophy for the best U-21 player in Europe, while Vincius won the Socrates Award for his humanitarian work fighting racism and his hard work to promote education in Brazil.
Vinicius was also name-checked by Messi in his speech after receiving the award, who said, “Haaland, Mbappe, Vinicius, and many young players can compete for the Ballon d’Or in the next few years.”
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo