Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric won the 2018 Ballon d’Or on Monday, completing a sweep of the major individual awards.
Modric beat Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann of Atletico Madrid to the award after a season in which he won a third straight UEFA Champions League with Real and guided Croatia to second place at the FIFA World Cup.
The 33-year-old was voted FIFA’s Best Men’s Player earlier this year and was seen as the favourite for the Ballon d’Or as well.
His excellent form in the World Cup likely proved the difference. Second-placed Ronaldo also played a key role in Madrid’s Champions League run, but he couldn’t carry Portugal to World Cup glory as the European champions lost to Uruguay in the round of 16.
Griezmann won the World Cup with France and the UEFA Europa League with Atletico, but his form has tailed off since the summer, scoring just three La Liga goals in 14 starts this season.
Modric’s win marked the first time in a decade Ronaldo or Barcelona’s Lionel Messi didn’t hoist the trophy:
Messi finished well short of where he usually does, coming in at No. 5 despite enjoying a solid season at club level:
His struggles with the Argentina national team continued, dooming his Ballon d’Or chances. The Albiceleste barely survived the World Cup group stages before bowing out against eventual champions France.
Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg won the first ever women’s Ballon d’Or, while PSG’s Kylian Mbappe took home the inaugural Kopa Trophy, handed to the best under-21 player and voted on by former Ballon d’Or winners.
His team-mate Neymar finished in 12th place, marking the first time since 2012 that he dropped out of the top 10. The Brazilian suffered a key injury that wrecked the end of his 2017-18 campaign and preparations for the World Cup, where Brazil were knocked out by Belgium.
Griezmann finished just behind Ronaldo and likely lost some votes due to the French success as a team. Mbappe and Raphael Varane were both standouts during the World Cup as well, making it harder for the Atletico man to distinguish himself.