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After group stages and the knockout stages, we have finally reached the finals of World Cup 2022. Only a couple of games remain until the World Cup ends and we find out who gets the crown.
With the biggest names in world football gearing up to try and lead their teams to glory on the biggest stage of them all, we’re going to through all the top contenders for the competition’s Golden Ball prize, which is basically a two-man race at this point.
World Cup 2022 Golden Ball Contenders
The Golden Ball is the prize given to the player who performs best at the tournament. The award is voted for by representatives of the media who have covered the entirety of the event. The winner in 2018 was Luka Modric, who led an unlikely Croatia team all the way to the final.
But after Croatia lost in the semi finals in Qatar, Modric is no longer one of the main favourites to win. In fact, two names are the most realistic at this point – Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.
- Lionel Messi
- Kylian Mbappe
- Antoine Griezmann
- Damien Martinez
- Olivier Giroud
- Lautaro Martinez
So, let's take a closer look at a selection of the main favourites to win this prestigious award in Qatar:
Lionel Messi (Argentina) @ 1/5
Lionel Messi has won everything there is to win in football, other than the World Cup. On top of that, he has a list of personal accolades longer than my arm. Could this winter be the final piece of the jigsaw to complete the career of arguably the greatest player to ever play the game?
After years of struggling for his national team, the little magician finally has a group of teammates alongside him that are truly capable of competing for the World Cup. While his Argentina side made the final in 2014, they were never all that convincing. This time around, Messi has support and even Messi himself is having the best World Cup of his career. So, one final hurdle remains and if Messi and his teammates jump over it, there's little doubt that we will see Messi win Golden Ball.
In fact, according to bookies, this is already a foregone conclusion. With the odds of 1/5, they obviously see Messi as the Golden Ball winner regardless what happens in the final. Still, Mbappe is lurking behind him and one great performance by the Frenchmen could tip the scales in his favour.
888Sport Odds: 1/5
Kylian Mbappe (France) @ 9/2
Back at the last World Cup in Russia in 2018, 19-year-old Mbappe set the tournament alight with his pace and finishing ability. He was probably France’s best player at the tournament and picked up the young player of the tournament award. To be fair, if it wasn’t for Croatia’s underdog story, he probably would have won the Golden Ball as well. He was that good.
A lot has happened in the four years. Mbappe has established himself as one of the hottest properties in world football and recently signed an unprecedented contract to stay at Paris Saint Germain. He has continued to win personal and team accolades and there is no better stage for him to stake his claim as the best footballer on the planet than the World Cup.
So, Mbappe once again stepped up and he got to the World Cup final with France for the second time in a row. If France manages to defend the title and Mbappe does well in the game, he could claim the Golden Ball. Otherwise, Lionel Messi seems like the obvious winner.
888Sport Odds: 9/2
Antoine Griezmann (France) @ 10/1
Although he failed to score a goal so far in Qatar, Antoine Griezmann has been one of the crucial players for France, next to Mbappe and Giroud. The experienced forward managed to produce three assists so far, which is enough to put him in contention for the Golden Ball, although his chances of actually winning it are much lower compared to Messi and Mbappe, the two leading candidates.
888Sport Odds: 10/1
Our World Cup Player of the Tournament Prediction: Mbappe
You may have noticed that our list is comprised entirely of forwards and attacking midfielders. No, this isn’t because we hate defensive players but the proof is in the pudding – only one defensive player has ever won the Golden Ball. This came in 2002 when legendary goalkeeper Oliver Khan picked up the award after a series of phenomenal performances.
Our tip for this year’s prize is Kylian Mbappe. France already got far in the tournament, but we can see them getting further even, perhaps defending their title, and given how Mbappe played so far at the World Cup, we can easily see him being named the best player at the tournament.