On October 30, France Football revealed its final Ballon d'Or rankings for 2023, placing the 30 nominees in order after all the votes were counted. The names trickled in via social media during the star-studded gala in Paris, with the outstanding players of the past 12 months all included.
There was Jamal Musiala, Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard earning places in the top 20. So too did the likes of Mo Salah, Lautauro Martinez and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Lionel Messi, of course, won his eighth Golden Ball, with Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Vinicius Jr close behind him.
One name that might have surprised those watching was Antoine Griezmann, who ranked at a lowly 21st following a season where Atletico Madrid crashed out of Europe early and went trophy-less in Spain. That he was even on the shortlist at all will have surprised some, but in truth, Griezmann's final ranking did him something of a disservice. That's a sentiment shared by Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who told GOAL this week that he "couldn't believe it" when he heard Griezmann's Ballon d'Or position.
Since the 2022 World Cup kicked-off in November of last year, the 32-year-old forward has scored 25 goals and added 17 assists for club and country. He took an Atletico side that had started the season in miserable form and led them to a third-placed finish and Champions League qualification. He has also been the architect of an undefeated Euro 2024 qualifying campaign for France, while in the opening months of the current campaign, his nine goals have Diego Simeone's side well-placed to make a first La Liga title push in three years.
On Sunday, when Atleti travel to take on Griezmann's former club, Barcelona, he has the chance to haunt Catalunya, as one of the Blaugrana's most-expensive transfer flops returns with his world-class abilities now revived and ready to land another blow to Barca's fading title dreams.