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Proclaimed world champion with Argentina, Lionel Messi is the great favorite to win the award for best player at the FIFA ‘The Best’ awards ceremony on Monday in Paris.
The PSG superstar (35 years old) finally conquered with his country the supreme title that was missing from his illustrious record and is the best placed to obtain the favor of the jury, made up of coaches, national team captains and journalists, as well as by the public vote online.
In the event of winning the award, Messi would achieve that distinction for the third time in his career, after 2009 and 2019, and would succeed Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, the current double winner in 2020 and 2021.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or will compete with two Frenchmen, his fellow Parisian Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema. The former, top scorer in the 2022 World Cup with 8 goals, left his mark in the World Cup final with a hat-trick for the legend despite the defeat suffered on penalties against Albiceleste (3-3; 4-2 in penalties). Benzema, for his part, was the great architect of Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League, the fifth of his career, and comes endorsed by his conquest of the last Ballon d’Or.
The World Cup in Qatar could be the decisive element of a gala that will take place in the Sala Pleyel in the French capital, and allow the Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni win the award for best coach, although the forecasts are more uncertain given the competition from Italian Carlo Ancelotti, winner of the Champions League with Real Madrid. The Spanish Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) is the other nominated coach.
The decisive saves of Emiliano Martinez in the penalty session of the World Cup final make the Argentine a possible winner of the award for best goalkeeper, but the Aston Villa player could be harmed by his obscene celebration at the end of the match, at the moment of receiving his trophy for best goalkeeper of the tournament, and for his numerous provocations, especially with Mbappé with the object of the same, during the celebration of the title in Argentina.
Nor will it be easy against the Belgian Thibaut Courtois, who multiplied his saves in the Champions League final with Real Madrid, and against the keeper of the goal for Sevilla and Morocco (semifinalist in the World Cup) Yassine Bounou.
As if that were not enough, Argentina is nominated for Best Supporters at The Best awards. The motives? On the one hand, all the fans who flocked to Qatar and accompanied La Scaleneta on their way to the title and, on the other, the millions who filled the streets in every corner of the country to celebrate each victory and burst with emotion when they lifted the Cup.
From the official FIFA website they maintained: “The trip from Argentina to Qatar is not exactly short, but the fans of the albiceleste came to Doha in large numbers since the start of the championship to support Lionel Messi in his last attempt to win the only trophy that remained elusive until then”.
The prizes for women’s football
In the women’s category, the Spanish Alexia Putellas, holder of the title and Ballon d’Or 2022, can revalidate her crown, but the FC Barcelona midfielder will face Beth Mead, European champion last year with England, and the American Alex Morgan, the latter in the background in the bets.
Among the coaches, the French Sonia Bompastor, who won the Women’s Champions League with Lyon, the Brazil coach Pia Sundhage, and Sarina Wiegman, England coach, are the three finalists.
The prize for the best archer will be played between the German Ann-Katrin Berger, the English Mary Earps and the Chilean Christiane Endler.
For the Puskas award for the best goal of the year, the nominees are the Polish Marcin Oleksy, soccer player with one leg amputated (Warta Poznan-Stal Rzeszow), the Frenchman from Olympique de Marseille Dimitri Payet, and the Brazilian Richarlison, thanks to his goal in the Brazil-Serbia of the last World Cup in Qatar.