The Ballon d’Or has caused some controversy in recent years with glaring omissions from shortlists and teams of the year, as well as some bizarre voting patterns and preferential treatment by coaches or players involved in the voting process. So, to try and bring some credibility back to football’s individual honours, we have created The Blog d’Or, where the writers of The Blog FC have whittled down a 50-man longlist to countdown the real best 23 players of the calendar year. The countdown continues here.
The Blog d’Or #17
2014 was certainly a season of two halves for the young Belgian wizard.
Chelsea were at the summit for much of the 2013-14 season, but faded thanks to dropping crucial points against teams in the bottom-half as they ceded ground to both Liverpool and eventual winners Manchester City to finish 3rd.
Hazard’s form was good in the early stages of 2014, but he matured at the beginning of Jose Mourinho’s second year of his Chelsea homecoming and the results speak for themselves.
Though he finished with the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was second to Luis Suarez for the PFA Player of the Year award, Hazard was publicly chastised by Mourinho following Chelsea’s exit from the Champions League at the semi-final stage to Atletico Madrid.
After Hazard claimed that Chelsea were set up merely to counter attack, Mourinho retorted that Hazard was not ready to sacrifice himself for the team and that he was not “mentally ready”, before blaming the Belgian for Atletico’s first goal.
There was some discussion about Hazard moving away from Chelsea to PSG, but that never eventuated.
Hazard had a reasonable World Cup, assisting late winners for Belgium against Algeria and Russia, and guiding Belgium to the quarters, where they were defeated by eventual runners-up Argentina.
His good form in the latter stages of 2014 led to Chelsea totally dominating all competitions, finishing top of their Champions League group and leading the English Premier League. His combination with new signing Cesc Fabregas sees Chelsea favourites to win the league for the first time since 2009-10.
Some of their link-up play has been truly breathtaking and with the Blues five clear of Manchester City, Hazard is odds-on to add to his eight league goals this season and fire Chelsea to the title.