Thursday, December 16, 2004

Player of the year 2004

FIFA, as well as other shortlists, have three players as candidates for Player of the Year Award.
Ronaldinho, Schevchenko or Henry?

I would go for Ronaldinho. This year has been his year. After seeing his magic in Corea/Japan 2002 and in Paris Saint-Germain, it was only a question of time before he would surpass the other Brazilian stars. In a stunning Barcelona team this year, this is just what he has done. In the spring, Barcelona started to win, although too late to get the championship they did end ahead of arch-rival Real Madrid in the Spanish League. This fall, Barcelona and Ronaldinho have kept the pace and have been shining brightly in both the Spanish League and in the Champions League. At the same time, although getting limited playing time, Ronaldinho has been a frequent star in the Brazilian national team, which this year both won the Copa America and is in front in the South American World Cup qualifiers.

Thierry Henry's chance should have been last season. This season, although certainly still a goal-scoring machine, Mr. Henry has certainly been out-shined by rising stars. At the same time, Mr. Henry has not managed to shine in great international tournaments: in the Champions League Arsenal has not made it all the way, and in the Euro 2004 with the French national team, Henry was a disappointment together with his team-mates.

Schevchenko has also had a great season with AC Milan, and continues to prove that he is the obvious choice in the Milanese attack. However, AC Milan is not an entertaining attacking team, and thus Mr. Schevchenko to a certain degree lacks the flair of Ronaldinho, something which is also part of winning the honour. At the same time, while success has been frequent with AC Milan, Schevchenko has never enjoyed success with an otherwise talented Ucranian national team. Absent from the Euro 2004, and not doing too well in the World Cup qualifiers, Mr. Schevchenko is not having success everywhere.

I will certainly go for Ronaldinho. But he only wins because he has been a star shining a bit brighter than the other stars this season.

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