On 23 September, players, managers and retirees alike gathered to Milan, Italy for the annual FIFA Football Awards.
Few were surprised to see Leonel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shortlisted for the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award, whilst Megan Rapinoe won the award for the FIFA Best Women’s Player Award for her contribution to the U.S. women’s national team at the 2019 FIFA World Cup. Jill Ellis, the manager of the U.S. women’s national team, won the award for the 2018/19 Women’s Coach of the Year.
What came as a surprise, however, were the selections for the 2018/19 Men’s Coach of the Year and the men’s world XI. In short, Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp won the award for the Men’s Coach of the Year as he managed his side to their first UEFA Champions League title in 14 years.
It is without a doubt this was a tremendous achievement, as the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League title was Liverpool’s first major trophy since the Reds won the 2011/12 EFL Cup.
As a result of this achievement, Alisson and Virgil van Dijk were selected as members of the 2018/19 men’s world XI. Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong were included for their remarkable run with Ajax as they eliminated Real Madrid and Juventus in the Round of 16 and the Quarter-finals. Former Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who played an instrumental role in helping his team win the 2018/19 Europa League, was also included. Finally, Messi and Ronaldo made the men’s world XI.
The remaining selection, however, came into question. Despite Manchester City winning an unprecedented English men’s domestic quadruple, not a single Sky Blue made the men’s world XI. City fans and pundits were left bemused.
The final four additions saw Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modrić and Kylian Mbappé in the men’s world XI. In comparison to the other players, Real Madrid’s trio did not win a single domestic trophy last season, were eliminated in the Champions League Round of 16 and were runners-up for the UEFA Super Cup. As for Mbappé, the Frenchmen’s Paris Saint-Germain only won two of France’s four domestic trophies and PSG were eliminated in the Champions League’s Round of 16.
Whilst it would be a guessing game as to who could have replaced Ramos, Marcelo, Modrić and Mbappé, what was more clear-cut was the battle between Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. The latter led his team to an unprecedented English men’s domestic quadruple, where the Sky Blues managed to pipe the Reds to the English Premier League title.
For whatever reason, Guardiola and his men missed out on the honours at the FIFA Football Awards. Were they undone?