4 Real Madrid players have been snubbed the most this past year

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images) /

FIFA presented its annual Best Awards recently. Bayern Munich’s goal-machine Robert Lewandowski won the award for the Best Men’s Player after his recent heartbreak in the Ballon d’Or standings where the Argentine legend Lionel Messi denied the Polish of his first Ballon d’Or and cruised to take home his seventh.

Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas won the same award in the women’s category and there wouldn’t be any contestations to the decision. Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy won the award for best men’s goalkeeper and in the women’s game, the winner was PSG’s Christiane Endler. Every award so far seems very fair and well thought out. Alas, the story with the FIFA FIFPRO XI is completely different.

The Ballon d’Or had only two Real Madrid nominees in the 30-player shortlist, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric. While Modric ended in the 29th position without a single vote cast in his favor, Karim Benzema finished fourth and was denied a podium finish by Chelsea’s Jorginho. What frustrates me more is how the footballing world completely forgets to recognize the efforts of Real Madrid’s midfield geniuses. While not a single vote was cast in Modric’s favor. His partner in crime and arguably someone with equal influence over Los Blancos’ season, Toni Kroos wasn’t even shortlisted in a 30-man list.

The rankings released by ESPN are a continuous series of inadequately analyzed conclusions. They rise to a newer illogical level with every list they release. Just tune into this article by my colleague Kevin. It is simply maddening at times to see the players of your club disrespected at such levels. Then again after ESPN, the EA video game franchise FIFA, also snubbed Kroos off a position in their team of the year nominations while both Luka Modric and Casemiro got the nod over the German.

But, these are private entities with a mind of their own and fans believed Footballing awards to be a little more justified, they are after all initiated by governing bodies of football. But sadly, the same theme continues there too.

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Thibaut Courtois, and Karim Benzema were left hard-done by FIFA Awards

It’s nothing new. To be honest, real fans have understood how hollow these award ceremonies are and that they actually hold no credibility. We no longer use Individual awards in arguing cases for our favorite players in peer debates because these awards always tend to achieve a newer level of stupidity with each passing edition. The case was very similar with the FIFA awards this year, too. Let’s analyze the inconsistencies in the recently announced FIFA Best Awards and their FIFPRO XI lineups.

Real Madrid appears only twice in the list of winners and nominees, once with Karim Benzema and next with the new signing David Alaba. And, that is absolutely ridiculous because players like Alisson Becker of Liverpool and Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong have made it into the FIFPRO nominations. That is as stupid as it can get. The Catalan midfield’s woes were well exposed last season against bigger opponents and it was absolutely non-existent against PSG and Real Madrid.

Contrastingly, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been putting in their hundred percent for their club and country consistently. And, in the process, they have arguably established European Football’s most effective midfield. Out of the two, Madridistas have developed a habit of not expecting accolades for Kroos, maybe he’d have to find a way to end world hunger and make 100+ Goals/Assists while winning the Copa America and European Championships together to land on the radar of these award committees.

But, Busquets and de Jong getting the head over Luka Modric is the stupidest thing I’ll hear for a long while. It’s simply unbelievable how the FIFA awards turn a blind eye over these legendary players. There’s no room for comparative analysis during these nominations it seems. No matter how many El Clasicos Real Madrid’s GOAT midfield dominates, a Copa del Rey at the end of the season is what really counts. And to clear the air, the criteria of the award clearly mentions that the duration of play taken into account for judgment is October 8, 2020, to August 7, 2021. And, I hope you know which games took place between these dates.

Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois
Real Madrid, Thibaut Courtois (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images) /

Now coming to the goalkeeping position, Liverpool had a trophy-less season in 2020-21. And, Alisson Becker made only two appearances in the Copa America for Brazil with Ederson being the main goalkeeping option. In contrast, Real Madrid and Belgium’s Goalkeeping Ace, Thibaut Courtois hasn’t had a drop in his performances whatsoever being first choices both for his club and country.

This player comparison by FBref is proof that Courtois has played more games than Alisson Becker and the winner of the Best Goalkeeper Award, Edouard Mendy in the concerned time. He also has faced more shots and has a better save percentage including a better penalty saving rate among the three. It is just beyond my understanding as to how these nominations are finalized. Even if I understand Edouard Mendy’s Award I would never understand why Courtois missed out on a nomination when Alisson was among the nominees.

Now coming to Real Madrid’s main hope in such award functions, Karim Benzema. The Frenchman deserved a podium finish in the Ballon d’Or and he deserved the same in the recent FIFA awards. Yet, on both occasions, he was stranded on the fourth position. What’s even more frustrating is that he didn’t even get onto the FIFPRO XI. That’s simply insulting. Instead, the player who ended 11th on the final standings, Erling Haaland was included in the lineup.

With all due respect to Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema deserved to be on that FIFPRO team more than he did. Benzema won the Nations League with France and carried Real Madrid’s attack single-handedly to a second-place LaLiga finish and a Champions League Semifinal. CR7 couldn’t repeat his heroics from the inaugural season of the Nations League and his club Juventus was eliminated from the Champions League in the Round of 16 by Porto. Credit to the maestro for breaking the record of International goals but Portugal still does not have a seat sealed in Qatar 2022. Don’t get me wrong, I am an absolute Cristiano Fanboy but I do not understand the disrespect for Karim Benzema who deserved a spot on the FIFPRO XI much, much more than Erling Haaland and Cristiano Ronaldo did.

But, I am sure he’d turn a blind eye on these award functions just like they’ve continuously done. There are things more valuable than recognition and I hope Real Madrid players take up this humiliation to fuel their intentions for a season of dreams under Carlo Ancelotti. And hopefully, by this time next year, I’d be writing how these players left the award committees no option but to hand them the recognition they deserve.

The inconsistency remains outside Real Madrid, too

To start off the discussion with other inconsistencies, in the women’s FIFPRO team, FIFA decided not to include the winner of their Best Player Award, Alexia Putellas itself! And to add to that, the FC Barcelona team that won all possible titles last season didn’t have one single player among those XI. That is surprising and at the same time questions the very credibility of these awards. In fact, FIFA was so off with their selections that they completely omitted their top three finalists in Putellas, Sam Kerr, and Jennifer Hermoso. I don’t really understand the logic behind how these lineups were arrived at.

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The Men’s FIFPRO at least looks a little better. The choices in midfield are fair with N’Golo Kante, Kevin de Bruyne, and Jorginho being the three men in the middle. The inclusion of Leonardo Bonucci in the center-back position is again a questionable call. FIFA once again managed to contradict themselves and had their Best Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy replaced by Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal. The most controversial calls were among the four forwards that missed names like Karim Benzema and one of the three finalists, Mohamed Salah was also left out while Erling Haaland found his way in. Once again, I had a hard time hunting for logic in these selections.