In 2012, Bleacher Report predicted the next 10 winners of the Ballon d'Or

Back in 2012, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were at the peak of their powers.

Both players were dominating world football for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Few would have imagined that they would share all but one Ballon d’Or title since then.

And one publication that didn’t think they would still be at the top of world football right now are Bleacher Report.

Eight years ago, in August 2012, they decided to predict the next 10 winners of the Ballon d’Or.

It certainly makes for interesting reading now and you can view their predictions below…


Prediction: 1) Lionel Messi

Actual result: 1) Lionel Messi

No drama here. Messi scored 91 goals in 2012 so he was always going to walk away with the title.


Prediction: 1) Lionel Messi 2) Cristiano Ronaldo 3) Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Actual result: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo 2) Lionel Messi 3) Franck Ribery

Bleacher Report predicted Messi would retain his title, but it was Ronaldo who pipped his rival.

Ribery made the podium places after playing a starring role in Bayern’s Champions League triumph.


Prediction: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo 2) Sergio Aguero 3) Mario Balotelli

Actual result: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo 2) Lionel Messi 3) Manuel Neuer

They corrected predicted Ronaldo would pick up the title in 2014.

Messi would only have been 27 in 2014 but Bleacher Report predicted he would never feature in the top three for the Ballon d’Or again. How wrong they were.


Prediction: 1) Mesut Ozil 2) Karim Benzema 3) Gareth Bale

Actual result: 1) Lionel Messi 2) Cristiano Ronaldo 3) Neymar

Ozil was impressing for Arsenal back in 2015 but he wasn’t close to winning the Ballon d’Or that year.

Benzema and Bale have also not come close to winning the award.


Prediction: 1) Mario Balotelli 2) Gonzalo Higuain 3) Eden Hazard

Actual result: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo 2) Lionel Messi 3) Antoine Griezmann

“The year Super Mario becomes Mario The Mature,” they wrote. Needless to say that Balotelli didn’t even make the top 30. 


Prediction: 1) Eden Hazard 2) Thomas Muller 3) Aaron Ramsey

Actual result: 1) Cristiano Ronaldo 2) Lionel Messi 3) Neymar

Hazard had a decent year in 2017 but he still only finished 19th. Muller and Ramsey did not make the top 30.


Prediction: 1) Neymar 2) Marco Reus 3) Leonardo Damiao

Actual result: 1) Luka Modric 2) Cristiano Ronaldo 3) Antoine Griezmann

Neymar only came 12th in 2018. Damiao is an incredible shout. In 2018, he was playing for Brazilian outfit Internacional. He is now in Japan with Kawasaki Frontale.


Prediction: 1) Oscar 2) Jack Wilshere 3) Neymar

Actual result: 1) Lionel Messi 2) Virgil van Dijk 3) Cristiano Ronaldo

Oscar was a decent player, but he never quite became one of the world’s best. 

He showed he cared more about money than winning individual titles when he moved to China in 2017.

Back in 2012, picking Wilshere to be in the top three would have been a fair shout. But, injury problems have destroyed his career.


Prediction: 1) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 2) Lucas Moura 3) Mario Gotze

Barring a miracle, we can confidently say that Oxlade-Chamberlain will not win the Ballon d’Or this year. We can also say the same thing for Moura and Gotze.

It will be very surprising if any of the three make it on to the shortlist for the top 30.


Prediction: 1) Iker Muniain 2) Thiago Alcantara 3) Souleymane Coulibaly 

This is a laughable trio of predictions. Muniain is a decent player but he has never been nominated for the top 30.

Thiago is also a superb player but he’s never come close to making it to the podium.

Coulibaly now looks like a ridiculous shout. Back in 2012, he was at 17 years old and in Spurs’ youth team.

He never made an appearance for Spurs and is now playing in Tunisia with Étoile Sahel.

This list is exactly why you shouldn’t make predictions so far into the future.

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