Messi, Ronaldo, Dybala: FIFA 18 predictions for Ballon d'Or wins have aged terribly

Messi lifts the Ballon d'Or.

The Ballon d’Or can, for the most part, be pretty predictable.

After all, we are talking about an individual prize that has only been won by three different individuals since 2007 with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi romping their way to 12 of the last 13 plaques.

It’s a status quo that makes the next awarding of France Football’s revered accolade a very interesting one because it looks for all intents and purposes as though the duopoly might come to an end for good.

The Ballon d’Or moving forward

While you can never say never when it comes to the evergreen Ronaldo and Messi, the seemingly inevitable triumph of Karim Benzema could well bookend one of the most astonishing eras in football history.

And that might open the door for great competition and speculation surrounding the potential winners of the most coveted individual prize in the men’s game going forward.

As such, predicting who will win the upcoming editions of the Ballon d’Or right now is far more entertaining than some 2010 commentator listing his forecast as: Messi, Messi, Ronaldo, Messi, Ronaldo, Messi.

Messi holding the Ballon d'Or.
Soccer Football – The Ballon d’Or Awards – Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, France – November 29, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi with the Ballon d’Or award REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Ballon d’Or predictions

Here at GIVEMESPORT, we’ve already chanced our arm by predicting future winners of the prize, so now we’re turning our attention to a fascinating, alternate method in the form of EA Sports’ FIFA video game series.

Using its iconic ‘Career mode’ function, gamers are able to simulate the footballing world into the future and see who the game forecasts to win their equivalent of the Ballon d’Or: Player of the Year.

And back in 2018, YouTuber ‘TheMasterBucks’ tested out this feature by simulating the game all the way until 2029 to see which players FIFA 18 thought would be crowned best in the world each year.

Having amassed more than 500,000 views, it was a fascinating video at the time, but even more so now that we can compare it against the Ballon d’Or ceremonies that have come since and the ones still to come.

FIFA 18 simulation ages terribly

So, be sure to check out the original video in its entirety, but first, keep scrolling to see our breakdown of each year’s breakdown to see how it’s aged five years down below:

Note: In the game, the prize is given out at the start of the calendar year, so although you might see in the video that the news transpires in January 2018 – for example – that still means it’s the 2017 Ballon d’Or.

2017 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

Actual winner: Cristiano Ronaldo

It’s a brilliant start! FIFA was in line with France Football for what will be Ronaldo’s final Ballon d’Or win in the digital world – but will he ever win the fabled trophy again in reality?

Ronaldo parades the Ballon d'Or.
Football Soccer – Real Madrid v Granada – Spanish La Liga Santander – Santiago Bernabeu stadium, Madrid, Spain – 7/1/17 – Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo holds his Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) trophy to the crowd after winning the FIFA World Player of the Year 2016 award, before their Spanish first division soccer match against Granada. REUTERS/Juan Medina

2018 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Luis Suarez

Actual winner: Luka Modric

Now, credit to FIFA for predicting the collapse of the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly in 2018, but Suarez only actually finished 13th in the Ballon d’Or rankings in real life, trailing by a mammoth 736 votes.

2019 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Paulo Dybala

Actual winner: Lionel Messi

Ah… look, it did seem once upon a time that Dybala might be the heir to Messi’s throne and a future Ballon d’Or winner, but those fantasies have never come to pass. Not even close.

Dybala scores for Juventus.
Soccer Football – Serie A – Lazio vs Juventus – Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy – March 3, 2018 Juventus’ Paulo Dybala celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Max Rossi

2020 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Lionel Messi

Actual winner: N/A

One of the better predictions, it must be said, because FIFA could never have foreseen the award being scrapped because of a global pandemic and Messi did enjoy a strong year with Barcelona.

Everyone pretty much agrees that Robert Lewandowski would have strolled to the 2020 prize had it actually gone ahead, though.

2021 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Paulo Dybala

Actual winner: Lionel Messi

Oh no. There’s a trend emerging here and it’s not a good look for FIFA’s predictive powers with Dybala, currently a free agent, supposedly meant to have two Ballon d’Or titles at his stage.

Dybala overjoyed at Juventus.
Soccer Football – Serie A – Inter Milan v Juventus – San Siro, Milan, Italy – October 24, 2021 Juventus’ Paulo Dybala celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

2022 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Sergio Aguero

We’re now marauding into the future here and it really is emotional seeing FIFA predict a 34-year-old Aguero to win the Ballon d’Or when, sadly, we all know that could never be possible given his early retirement due to heart problems.

2023 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Paulo Dybala

I mean, you never know? While we would never be so cruel to Dybala as to rule out this forecast coming true, he really is going to need to nail his transfer decision this summer to give himself even the slightest of chances.

Dybala scores for Argentina.
Soccer Football – Finalissima – Italy v Argentina – Wembley Stadium, London, Britain – June 1, 2022 Argentina’s Paulo Dybala celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/John Sibley

2024 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Paulo Dybala

The pressure on that upcoming transfer decision mounts. Surely Manchester United or Inter Milan couldn’t turn Dybala into a serial Ballon d’Or winner over the coming years, could they? Could they?

2025 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Paulo Dybala

No pressure, Paulo.

Dybala celebrates a Juventus goal.
Soccer Football – Serie A – Genoa v Juventus – Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy – May 6, 2022 Juventus’ Paulo Dybala celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

2026 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Romelu Lukaku

Goodness me, we weren’t expecting that. With all due respect to the oft-disrespected and frankly underrated Lukaku, we struggle to see him lifting the Ballon d’Or trophy when he’s 33 years old.

2027 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Andre Silva

This is getting ridiculous now. Silva is a decent top-level striker, but he’s going to need some serious – and we mean, serious – improvements over the next five years to win the Ballon d’Or.

RB Leipzig's Silva celebrates.
Soccer Football – DFB Cup – Semi Final – RB Leipzig v 1. FC Union Berlin – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany – April 20, 2022 RB Leipzig’s Andre Silva celebrates scoring their first goal with Mohamed Simakan and Dani Olmo REUTERS/Annegret Hilse DFB REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO.

2028 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Mikel Oyarzabal

Come on, EA, were you picking them at random at this point? Once again, Oyarzabal is a solid player, but we’ll eat our hat if he’s going to be the best of them all when 2028 rolls around.

2029 Ballon d’Or

FIFA 18 winner: Rui Pedro

At the time of the simulation, Rui Pedro was rising through the ranks at FC Porto, but now finds himself a million miles away from Ballon d’Or contention in the second tier of Portuguese football.

Rui Pedro playing for FC Port.
PORTO, PORTUGAL – DECEMBER 07: Rui Pedro of FC Porto looks on during the UEFA Champions League match between FC Porto and Leicester City FC at Estadio do Dragao on December 7, 2016 in Porto, Porto. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Predictions aged poorly

Hmm. On the whole, you’ve got to say that FIFA’s prediction has already aged terribly.

Aside from getting Ronaldo right straight off the bat and not being a million miles away with Messi, we’re struggling to picture an era of dominance from Dybala that’s followed up by glory for Silva and Lukaku.

However, if football is predictable in any way then it’s just how darn unpredictable it is, so we’d love to be proven wrong in a weird world where the EA developers secretly live in the future and Oyarzabal is gearing up to take the sport by storm.

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