• Sam Kerr looks on during a Chelsea match (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Sam Kerr’s hopes of a historic Ballon d'Or award are in danger of being dashed by the same Barcelona trio who denied her Champions League glory some six months ago.
Jonathan Bernard

SBS The World Game
26 Nov 2021 - 10:24 AM  UPDATED 26 Nov 2021 - 10:24 AM

Watch the Ballon d'Or LIVE on SBS and SBS On Demand from 6:30am (AEDT) this Tuesday, November 30, or relive the ceremony and red carpet on replay via SBS On Demand.

You would forgive Chelsea for never visiting Gothenburg again.

Situated 400 kilometres southwest of Stockholm, not even its vibrant beauty – complete with Dutch-like canals and leafy boulevards – can remove the memory that remains of May 17.

To this west-London club, it’s now a Swedish seaport stricken by the scenes of Barcelona’s emphatic 4-0 victory in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final.

It proved the only blemish on what’s been an otherwise otherworldly 12 months from Kerr but on November 30, it could also cost her a precious piece of history.

Alexia Putellas will certainly hope for as much, as will Jennifer Hermoso and Lieke Martens; the Barcelona stars who helped complete an incredible treble-winning season under manager Lluis Cortes.

Chelsea, too, were eyeing the continental treble, having won the League Cup and Women’s Super League heading into their fateful clash with the Catalan club, and it was Kerr who made them dream.

The Matildas star scored 40 goals to go with 17 assists in 2021, including six from six at the Tokyo Olympic Games as Tony Gustavsson’s side fell just short of a maiden medal.

Such a return, worthy of the WSL golden boot, no less, is enough to have her heart set on the game’s most prestigious individual honour, one never before won by an Australian.

How to watch the 2021 Ballon d’Or LIVE on SBS
Football’s most prestigious individual award returns for 2021 with the best player in the men’s and women’s game set to be crowned Ballon d'Or winner on Tuesday, November 30 (AEDT) – with SBS to broadcast the ceremony LIVE, FREE and in HD.

The 28-year-old has never had a better chance to claim the coveted prize currently held by Megan Rapinoe, and it’s Putellas who perhaps poses the biggest threat.

Crowned UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year in August, Putellas produced 37 goals and 27 assists during a year in which the Blaugrana lifted the Primera Iberdrola, Copa de la Reina, and Champions League trophies.

Capable of playing in the heart of midfield or even further forward, the 27-year-old’s astonishing displays are unparalleled for her position and why many believe the award is hers to lose at the Chatelet Theatre.

Teammates Martens and Hermoso will challenge her in Paris, however, with the latter finding the back of the net 40 times in all competitions to claim a fifth golden boot from the last six league seasons.

Martens, too, was instrumental to her side’s success in 2021, having bounced back from an injury-hit 2019-20 season to the tune of 26 goals and 17 assists from the left wing.

Barcelona’s domination, complete with their first-ever women’s continental title, will undoubtedly weigh heavily on the voters’ minds when assessing the 20-strong shortlist put together by France Football.

And while Kerr’s accomplishments are more than worthy by comparison, there are fears Putellas – just as she did in Gothenburg – may have created a mountain too steep for her rival to climb.

Who should win the 2021 Ballon d'Or?
After a year's hiatus from world football, the Ballon d'Or is back and poised to deliver one of its most unpredictable outcomes yet.

Shortlist for Ballon d'Or Feminin

  • Kadidiatou Diani (PSG)
  • Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
  • Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona)
  • Christiane Endler (Lyon)
  • Christine Sinclair (Thorns FC)
  • Ashley Lawrence (PSG)
  • Irene Paredes (PSG, Barcelona)
  • Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
  • Lieke Martens (Barcelona)
  • Sandra Panos (Barcelona)
  • Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
  • Ellen White (Manchester City)
  • Pernille Harder (Chelsea)
  • Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage)
  • Wendie Renard (Lyon)
  • Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG)
  • Stina Blackstenius (Hacken)
  • Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea)
  • Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
  • Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)