Although defenders are normally left behind in the Ballon d’Or rankings, Real Madrid’s Marcelo is making a case after sparkling form for club and country
Marcelo is having one of the seasons of his life with both Real Madrid and Brazil’s national team. With four goals and 14 assists across all competitions, there is no doubt anymore as to who is the best left-back in the world at the moment. Is the reigning champion of Europe making a case for himself in the Ballon d’Or race?
Not many will disagree that Brazil has the best left-backs in the world. The fact that Marcelo is Tite’s favorite option ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis and Juventus’ Alex Sandro, highlights just how good the Los Blancos star is.
It is almost unbelievable when you remember that he is only 28-years-old – it feels like he has been a regular at the highest level for ages! But the most impressive feature about Marcelo is that every year, he manages to surpass his old self. A couple of seasons ago, the Brazilian still looked like that immature boy who only does skills for fun but lacks efficiency and tactical awareness.
Well, those days are gone! The veteran has firmly cemented himself as Real Madrid’s vice-captain, proving to be a real leader during tough moments. Marcelo has become one of the key figures at the Madrid-based club, not only in terms of leadership but also football characteristics.
The Brazilian has been in great shape for a long time, but in the past few weeks he is surpassing on every possible occasion. Against Sporting Gijon in La Liga, he provided a decisive last-gasp assist to Isco to seal the victory. In ‘El Clasico’ against Barcelona, he stood-out as one of the home side’s best performers, and delivered what could have been a decisive assist, to James Rodriguez.
He was blamed for the third goal for not bringing down Sergi Roberto, but the truth is that Madrid attacked with numbers, leaving themselves to a counter-attack situation of six against three.
Marcelo should not be victimized for not getting himself sent off after the Barca defender evaded Luka Modric and was running diagonally at full speed. It should not hinder the fact that Marcelo had a very balanced performance. Against Valencia in the weekend, Real Madrid was heading towards a damaging 1-1 draw, before the Samba boy took matters into hands, and scored the late winner from an individual moment of brilliance. In two of the last four Liga games, it is Marcelo who has forced two late winners. Without his contribution, Madrid would be four points short in the standings.
To shine in the Spanish league is a thing, but to pull off one of the best fullback performances of all-time against one of the Champions League favorites, is on another level of greatness. I am of course referring to Marcelo’s mouthwatering display against recently crowned German champions, FC Bayern.
In both legs, the Brazilian looked very solid. But it was in the return match in specific, in front of more than 80 thousand fans, that Marcelo managed to cement himself as one of the main heroes in the European quest of the Spanish club.
A few days earlier, flying Dutchman Arjen Robben had “ruined Erik Durm’s career”, and looked unstoppable all-game long, as Bayern crushed Dortmund 5-1 in Bundesliga action. The return leg was the perfect opportunity for Marcelo to show the world that he is well over his defensive flaws, and that is exactly what he was able to do. Roberto Carlos’ legitimate heir kept the attacker quiet for the majority of the game, and not only that, he was also the best attacker throughout the whole night, with his sparkling dribbles and rampaging runs.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will still be the favorites for the crown of the best in the world. It seems that over the past few years, defenders have never been taken into consideration for the Ballon d’Or. Is Marcelo simply not marketable enough for this popularity contest, or will he manage to defy the current criteria just like his idol Roberto Carlos did, when he was elected right behind Ronaldo as the world’s best in 2002?