After Barcelona’s 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Camp Nou earlier this month, Lionel Messi was the bookmakers’ overwhelming favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
The Argentine forward produced a masterclass against Jurgen Klopp’s side to continue his magnificent run of form and, at the time, was way ahead of any other player in the race for football’s most prestigious individual accolade.
However, Barça’s spectacular capitulation at Anfield six days later has drastically altered the bookies’ 2019 Ballon d’Or odds.
Messi remains the favourite (just) but now faces stiff competition from Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who might become the Ballon d’Or frontrunner depending on what happens in next month’s Champions League final against Tottenham.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s odds have also shortened significantly after the Reds knocked Messi and his teammates out of Europe.
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However, let’s not forget that Messi has still been out of this world this season.
In 48 games for Barça, the 31-year-old has scored an extraordinary 48 goals. He has also provided 22 assists for his teammates.
He inspired the Catalan giants to glory in La Liga and will be desperate to help his club complete a domestic double by winning the Copa del Rey against Valencia next weekend.
He’s also produced a number of breathtaking moments, including that glorious hat-trick against Real Betis back in March.
Should one disappointing performance at Anfield cost him the 2019 Ballon d’Or?
Jose Mourinho, who described Messi as the ‘God of football’ after the first leg against Liverpool, thinks perhaps it should.
Speaking to RMC, Mourinho said: "I have doubts that he deserves the Ballon d’Or this year because he failed in the Champions League."
Needless to say, Mourinho’s comments have already sparked quite a reaction from football fans on social media, with pro-Barça and Messi fans particularly unhappy with the Portuguese coach’s words.
Messi hasn’t won a Ballon d’Or since 2015 but holds the record for winning the award the most number of times, along with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Surely part of him will be desperate, even if he won’t admit it, to pull one ahead of Ronaldo later this year.News Now - Sport News