Chelsea: Is Petr Cech the Biggest Omission from Ballon D'Or Shortlist?
Last season Barcelona huffed and puffed in the Champions League semis, but could not find a way to break down the towering door that lay in the path of the goal they usually have no problem bursting.
The Czech keeper was excellent in the final against Bayern Munich too, capping off a season in which he had proven the doubters who had foolishly suggested "retire now," at the start, wrong.
A towering presence, Cech is surely this generation's answer to Peter Schmeichel—a fine shot-stopper who is remarkably agile for his size, but also a physical force in the penalty area.
He is still making gravity-defying saves this season—his quality stops against Nordsjaelland and Shakhtar Donetsk drawing praise from all quarters of the footballing community.
Which is why when FIFA released its list of the 23 players shortlisted for the 2012 Ballon d'Or award yesterday, given to the finest performer over the calendar year, I was genuinely surprised not to see Cech's name included.
Mario Balotelli's was, but Cech's wasn't.
Here is the list in full:
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, now Shanghai Shenhua), Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan, now Paris-SG), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Santos), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Robin van Persie (Arsenal, now Manchester United), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona).
Mario Balotelli, really?
Take away a couple of Euro 2012 semi-final goals, and what has the Italian striker done in the past ten months to deserve the honour?
For Blues fans, Didier Drogba was the only player who plied his trade in West London to have been included, even if he is no longer at the club.
In terms of goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer were the only representatives of the shot-stopper's league.
Now Buffon's and Casillas' inclusion I can understand, but has Neuer really been more impressive than the Champions League winning, Premier League table topping, Cech?
Other notable omissions include Eden Hazard (though FIFA has always taken a dim view of Ligue 1), Franck Ribery, Giorgio Chiellini and Robert Lewandowski, the latter of whom scored 30 goals last season and helped Borussia Dortmund win the Bundesliga for the second season running.
Who is the Biggest Omission?
Of course with awards such as these, there are always going to be deserving players who miss out.
The voters are coaches and captains of international teams, and journalists, all of whom will have their own opinion, as I have mine.
Barcelona and Real Madrid will always dominate so long as there is a perception of this untouchable aura around the two Spanish clubs—that they are playing on another wavelength far above and beyond anyone else in Europe.
But for me, Cech's absence from the shortlist is yet another blemish on the usually controversial award.
He wont care though, he'll make do with his Champions League winner's medal and skip watching the ceremony in January next year.
What do you think of the Ballon d'Or shortlist? Who else has been unfairly omitted?
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