Ballon d'Or 2018 Voting Shows Some Chose Neymar and Karim Benzema in Top Spot

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2018

2018 FIFA Ballon d'Or awarded for best player of the year, Men's Ballon d'Or Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (C), Women's Ballon d'Or Olympique Lyonnais' Norwegian forward Ada Hegerberg (L) and Under-21 Ballon d'Or (Kopa trophy) Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe (2ndR) pose as former French footballer and host David Ginola gestures at the end of the 2018 FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony at the Grand Palais in Paris on December 3, 2018. - The winner of the 2018 Ballon d'Or will be revealed at a glittering ceremony in Paris on December 3 evening, with Croatia's Luka Modric and a host of French World Cup winners all hoping to finally end the 10-year duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

France Football has released the voting breakdown from each country for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, with some journalists revealed to have chosen the likes of Neymar, Karim Benzema or Thibaut Courtois for top spot. 

Sport Witness relayed the voting breakdown after Luka Modric claimed the award, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo in second, while Lionel Messi came fifth:

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

How journalists in each country voted in Ballon d’Or. From France Football. #ballondor https://t.co/RAGO0wYv1G

Saint Kitts and Nevis, Kyrgyzstan and Central African Republic have raised some eyebrows with their votes, while Sport Witness also focused on Uruguay's voting:

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

And suddenly it all makes sense. https://t.co/tSOihk0Rv6

Neymar, the player who—until Modric this year—looked most likely to break Messi and Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or hold in recent years, came 12th overall.

OptaJean provided some insight:

OptaJean @OptaJean

2012 - It's the first time since 2012 than Neymar is ranked outside of the Ballon d'Or top 10 - he was playing for Santos 🇧🇷 at this period. Fall. https://t.co/HL5iwgul31

Of course, given his 2017-18 domestic season ended in February with a fractured metatarsal, the Brazilian was always going to be up against it for the calendar-year award.

On top of that, despite returning to fitness in time for the FIFA World Cup, he failed to light up the tournament in Russia, and his showing there will be remembered more for his histrionics than his performances.

That Benzema could be voted for in top spot is even more bizarre, despite him helping Real Madrid win their third consecutive UEFA Champions League title with two semi-final goals and another in the final.

The Frenchman was not even involved at the World Cup and has scored just 17 times in 2018.

Nevertheless, thanks in part to the Central African Republic's voting, he finished ahead of a number of players who arguably had a better year:

Get French Football News @GFFN

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) is 17th in this year's Ballon D'Or - ahead of Alisson, Sadio Mané & Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), as well as Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) https://t.co/6L4GVZKuoL

As for Courtois, despite claiming other individual awards this year, Bleacher Report's Alex McGovern could not believe he ranked at 14th overall:

Alex McGovern @AlexMcGovern11

So in 2018 Thibaut Courtois has ranked as top goalkeeper in the Ballon d'Or, The Best FIFA Goalkeeper & World Cup's best goalkeeper, when in reality he's not even in the world's top 5 goalkeepers. It's madness, people will look back at this year like he was actually really good. https://t.co/YzQzUNIYZU

While he may have helped Belgium finish third in Russia, his domestic form this year hasn't been overly inspiring.

Although it's unfair to solely judge a goalkeeper on the number of goals he has let in—given the defence in front of him is equally important in that regard—Courtois' record in 2018 does not make for great reading.

The 26-year-old shipped 24 goals in 18 games for Chelsea before his departure in the summer, and he has conceded 18 in his 14 appearances for Real Madrid.

It's somewhat refreshing that a goalkeeper might be chosen ahead of an attacker, as—with the exception of Modric this year—the award is largely dominated by goalscorers, but there was little case for Courtois being worthy of it.