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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Fifa Awards: Luka Modric primed to break up Messi/Ronaldo dominance

The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder is up against Ronaldo and Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah

Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric could be the first winner of the Fifa Player of the Year not named Messi or Ronaldo in 10 years at an awards ceremony in London. AFP
Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric could be the first winner of the Fifa Player of the Year not named Messi or Ronaldo in 10 years at an awards ceremony in London. AFP

Croatia and Real Madrid star Luka Modric returns to London on Monday with the best chance of being named Fifa's Player of the Year anyone other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo has had for a decade.

That decision will be the climax of the Best Fifa Football Awards show at the Royal Festival Hall, with the 90-minute ceremony being broadcast online from 10.30pm in the UAE.

The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder's hopes of breaking the 10-year Messi/Ronaldo duopoly are based on two pillars: one, Messi has not made the short list for the first time since 2007; and two, Modric was the player of the tournament at this summer's World Cup and won Uefa's Player of the Year last month.

Ronaldo, however, has been nominated for another player of the year prize, with Liverpool and Egypt hero Mohamed Salah completing the line-up.

Since 2008, it has been Messi first and Ronaldo second five times, and Ronaldo first, Messi second five times.

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Frosinone at the weekend. AFP
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring against Frosinone at the weekend. AFP

Ronaldo, of course, will have his backers again, in a voting system that is equally weighted between national team managers, national captains, representatives from the media and an online public vote.

The 33-year-old striker, who joined Juventus this summer, helped Real Madrid win a third straight Uefa Champions League title last season, his fifth in total, with 15 goals in the tournament. But Portugal did not progress beyond the last 16 in Russia, although Ronaldo did score a memorable hat-trick against Spain.

Modric was also a key member of that Madrid side but he also drove Croatia to their first appearance in a World Cup final, where they lost 4-2 to France but not before beating the likes of Argentina, Russia and England.

Salah, like Ronaldo, was not at his peak in Russia but he at least had the excuse of not being fit following his controversial tangle with Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final. Prior to that moment, though, the Egyptian was arguably the hottest finisher in the world with his 32 Premier League goals a record for a 38-game season.

Mohamed Salah was on target in Liverpool's 3-0 win over Southampton at the weekend. Reuters
Mohamed Salah was on target in Liverpool's 3-0 win over Southampton at the weekend. Reuters

The men's prize is one of nine awards up for grabs, with Norway's Ada Hegerberg, Dzsenifer Marozsan of Germany and Brazilian Marta up for the women's player-of-the-year gong.

There are also men's and women's coaches of the year prizes, with France's Didier Deschamps sure to win the former, while Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel are nominated for the top goalkeeper award.

Peru's passionate World Cup supporters are nominated for the fans prize, as are the Japanese and Senegalese supporters who cleaned up after themselves in Russia, and Gareth Bale's breathtaking volley in the Champions League final is among 10 shortlisted for the Puskas prize given to the year's best goal.

The remaining two prizes are places on the FIFA/FIFPro World XI - which will be selected from a 55-strong list - and a Fair Play Award.

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Read more:

In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo scores as Juventus extend perfect start to Serie A season

Juventus push for VAR in the Champions League after Cristiano Ronaldo's red card

Premier League talking points: Xherdan Shaqiri gives Liverpool even more attacking options

Match report: Jurgen Klopp hails 'cool' win over Southampton, criticises Liverpool's performance

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