Oliver Kahn considers the contenders for this year’s Ballon d’Or and Germany’s emphasis on teamwork. ‘We don’t have Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.’
Kahn was speaking to FIFA’s official website and also recalled comments he made in his playing days that some in Spain took as a criticism of Real Madrid.
“I remember being asked by Spanish media whether I could imagine playing for Real Madrid, and I replied: “No, why? I’m already playing for the best club in the world,” by which I meant Bayern Munich,” he said.
“Although it was supposed to be a bit of fun, it didn’t go down too well. In hindsight it came across as arrogant, and while it was only intended to be a joke, it fell completely flat.”
Kahn was in Madrid when he made the comments for the 2002 Ballon d’Or awards and expressed a theory that Germany’s team ethic means their players miss out on individual prizes.
“While Germany have many excellently skilled footballers, they don’t have a Ronaldo or a Messi. The national team is picked to create the best possible blend,” he argued.
“At the 2014 World Cup there was a perfect balance between individualists such as Mario Gotze or Mesut Ozil, more unassuming players tasked with important roles and on-pitch leaders.
“This made the difference against teams such as Argentina that are built around one particular player, a situation that simply doesn’t exist in the German national side.
“Nevertheless, I don’t want to make the mistake of being judgmental here and saying that one model is better than the other. All I’m saying is that Germany succeeded in creating a very strong unit at last year’s World Cup.
“It’ll probably be another battle between Messi, who’s had a strong season, and Ronaldo, who has scored another hatful of goals. I think Ronaldo will win again, a man who calls himself the world’s best player – and who can blame him?
“Germans always find it particularly difficult unless they play for a club like Real Madrid as Toni Kroos does.”