FIFA handed out its 'The Best' awards for 2018 Monday in London, recognizing the, well, best of the best in the sport over the past year.
Given 2018 was a men's World Cup year, the monthlong tournament in Russia factored heavily into the male winners, though Real Madrid's third straight Champions League title surely factored into the voting, especially for the FIFPro World XI.
On the women's side, absent a World Cup or European championship, there figured to be an added focus on the club side, where French and European champion Lyon was expected to walk away with the hardware. While it did on the coaching side, there was a surprise when it came to top player.
Here are the winners for each award, along with the shortlisted finalists (a full breakdown of the voting among national team coaches, captains and media can be seen here):
BEST MEN'S PLAYER - Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus, Portugal), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt)
Modric becomes the first non-Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo winner of this award since 2007, when Kaka won it. It took something spectacular to end that reign, and Modric delivered it for club and country, helping Real Madrid win a third straight Champions League title and leading Croatia to its first World Cup final. He won Golden Ball honors in Russia for his efforts.
Lionel Messi was omitted from the final three, as were all participants from France's World Cup-winning side, which ruffled Antoine Griezmann's feathers. No matter, Modric, Ronaldo and Salah each have strong cases. The three were also finalists for UEFA's men's player of the year honors, which also went to Modric.
BEST WOMEN'S PLAYER - Marta (Orlando Pride, Brazil)
Ada Hegerberg (Lyon, Norway), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Lyon, Germany), Marta (Orlando Pride, Brazil)
Marta, now a six-time World Player of the Year, helped Brazil to the Copa America title, but she was not as instrumental in winning the trophy as some of her teammates, her star-laden club missed the NWSL playoffs and she didn't crack the first or second NWSL XI for this past season. Her latest win, while momentous, is certainly a surprise.
There were a slew of apparent snubs for this category (USA's Lindsey Horan and Megan Rapinoe, Australia's Sam Kerr among them), but Lyon was rightly recognized for its Champions League and French league double among the finalists.
Hegerberg led the Ligue 1 Femenine with an astounding 31 goals in 22 games and scored in the Champions League final vs. Wolfsburg, while Marozsan was also a key component of that team.
BEST COACH (MEN'S) - Didier Deschamps (France)
Finalists: Zlatko Dalic (Croatia), Didier Deschamps (France), Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)
Deschamps takes home the award for leading France to its second World Cup title, 20 years after he captained Les Bleus to their first.
Among those not included among the finalists were Pep Guardiola, who oversaw the most dominant season in Premier League history with Man City; Jurgen Klopp, who guided Liverpool to the Champions League final; and Max Allegri, who coached Juventus to a seventh straight Serie A title. The World Cup weighed heavily here, with the two coaches who reached the finals making the shortlist. Zidane, currently unemployed, led Real Madrid to its third straight Champions League title.
BEST COACH (WOMEN'S) - Reynald Pedros (Lyon)
Finalists: Reynald Pedros (Lyon), Asako Takakura (Japan), Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands)
Lyon's double in a non-World Cup or Euro year made Pedros the favorite and, ultimately, the winner. Takakura led Japan to the Asian Cup title, while Wiegman, who won the award in 2017 for guiding the Netherlands to the Euro title, is back among the finalists for an unbeaten start on the road to Women's World Cup qualifying. The Dutch are in a playoff for one more place in France next summer after being edged by Norway for first in the group.
PUSKAS AWARD - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Everton)
Salah's individual effort in the Merseyside Derby emerged victorious from the voting, which was a surprise, no matter if it was open to the unpredictability of fan votes.
Salah's goal was included among 10 incredibly worthy finalists:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid vs. Liverpool, Champions League final)
Denis Cheryshev (Russia vs. Croatia, World Cup quarterfinals)
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (AEK Athens vs. Olympiakos, Greek Superleague)
Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Cruzeiro vs. Atletico Mineiro, Campeonato Mineiro)
Riley McGree (Newcastle Jets vs. Melbourne City, Australian A League)
Lionel Messi (Argentina vs. Nigeria, World Cup group stage)
Benjamin Pavard (France vs. Argentina, World Cup round of 16)
Ricardo Quaresma (Portugal vs. Iran, World Cup group stage)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid vs. Juventus, Champions League quarterfinals)
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool vs. Everton, English Premier League)
BEST GOALKEEPER - Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Real Madrid, Belgium)
Finalists: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea/Real Madrid, Belgium), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, France), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City, Denmark)
Courtois helped guide Belgium to a third-place finish at the World Cup, an all-time best for the Red Devils.
There was no room on the shortlist for David De Gea, who struggled at the World Cup but was otherworldly for Manchester United, nor is there space for Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen or Real Madrid's Keylor Navas. The shortlisted trio were all sensational at the World Cup, with Lloris–save for a blunder in the final that didn't prove to be costly–making timely stops to play his role in Les Bleus' title.
FIFPRO WORLD XI
A 55-player shortlist was revealed two weeks ago, omitting the likes of Bale, Lloris and Sergio Aguero. From that list, the following 11 players were recognized by their peers as the best in the world:
Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)
Defenders: Dani Alves (PSG), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)
Defensive Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Attacking Midfielders: Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/Juventus)
FAN AWARD - Peru
Finalists: Peru, Senegal & Japan, Chilean Sebastian Carrera
Peruvian fans were voted by fans worldwide after their boisterous support of La Blanquirroja at their first World Cup in 36 years.