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 #6
2014 was an incredible year for the diminutive German jack-of-all-defensive-trades, on every account.
From captaining his national side to a Word Cup victory to overseeing a record breaking 24th, and fastest, league title with Bayern Munich, one would be hard pressed to find a more successful player in this list. Used mostly in a more tradional right full-back position in the World Cup, Lahm led Die Mannschaft with precision passes, tactical displays and some very well-timed tackles. Like a general leading from just behind the front, his presence was felt in so many of Germany’s most sweeping moves, culminating in him becoming only the third German captain to hold aloft the Cup, as well as the very first since reunification.
One could also be hard pressed to find a more complete player.
Moving from his traditional right full-back and auxiliary left full-back roles, Lahm has spent much of this season for Bayern – like last – playing as a holding midfielder in front of the back four, keeping some very talented and expensive midfielders on the bench whilst doing so – and leading his side to a domestic double.
This website’s own Mark Houston even argued that Lahm should have won the Ballon d’Or last season, and part of that was down to his tactical flexibility and adeptness at playing in a variety of positions, while also leading one of the most successful teams in history.
And he’s even built on that, adding football’s biggest prize to his CV after a stellar World Cup in Brazil.
The ninth trophy in two years for Lahm was his most satisfying, and his performances in Brazil were superb as he played in all seven of Germany’s matches en route to the title. He started the tournament in central midfield, fielded there in group games against Portugal, Ghana and the United States, as well as the Round of 16 match against Algeria, before being moved back to right-back for the remainder of the tournament.
Following the historic 7-1 demolition of Brazil – where Lahm’s marauding runs down the right wreaked havoc on Brazil’s almost-absent left side – Lahm was named on the 10-man shortlist for the tournament’s Golden Ball award for the best player overall – though he lost out to Leo Messi despite keeping a clean sheet against Argentina in the final.
Lahm, who was always renowned for having a footballing mind and maturity of a man many years his senior has continued with this as he hits his later years of his career. With an incredible passing range, a vision that seems to be working five passes in the future, and a positional awareness that is second to none, he is justifying the “most intelligent footballer” moniker given to him by his coach, Pep Guardiola.
Having retired from international football on top, and having committed his next four years to Bayern, expect to find the evergreen, ever-evolving Lahm at the forefront of European football for a few more years to come.