Lionel Messi is the only player from the Ballon d'Or top five still in Europe

Juventus v Ajax - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg

There has been no shortage of drama in this year's Champions League.

Ajax have perhaps been the biggest surprises this season, knocking out two of the favourites - Real Madrid and Juventus - on their way to a first semi-final in the 21st Century.

Meanwhile, Manchester United completed an incredible comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, only to come up short against a mercurial Barcelona.

The Blaugrana were the first team to book themselves a place in the final four, quickly followed by Ajax and the final two places will be decided by Wednesday night's fixtures.

Tottenham are currently in control of the all-English quarter-final and Manchester City will need to play at the top of their game to keep the quadruple dreams alive.

2018-19 Champions League

Liverpool have a much more straightforward task, carrying a 2-0 lead into the second leg and buoyed by their convincing 5-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao last season.

However, it could be argued that the absentees from the Champions League semi-finals are almost as interesting as the clubs and players reaching them.

That's because a massive cohort of the world's best players are no longer competing for European glory and that particularly stands out when you assess the Ballon d'Or voting.


Modric, Griezmann, Ronaldo and Mbappe out

It was well publicised that Lionel Messi only came fifth in the rankings, a decision that looks almost laughable now as he emerges as an early favourite for the 2019 edition.

Not only that, but football fans have started to notice that the four players which finished ahead of him in the standings have all been eliminated from the Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo had knocked out Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann, only to meet the same fate against Ajax on Tuesday night.

Kylian Mbappe was on the wrong end of the United's dramatic comeback at the Parc des Prince and Luka Modric was another victim of Ajax's European charge this season.

To refresh your memories of the standings - take a look down below:

1. Luka Modric - 753 votes

2. Cristiano Ronaldo - 478 votes

3. Antoine Griezmann - 414 votes

4. Kylian Mbappe - 347 votes

5. Lionel Messi - 280 votes

It certainly looks awkward when you consider Messi is the last man standing in Europe and sits above both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the La Liga table. 

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg

The Argentine is also beating Ronaldo and Mbappe in both the goal-scoring and assist charts this season, further adding to his claim for a sixth Ballon d'Or trophy later in the year.

Barcelona will learn whether they're facing Liverpool or Porto in the semi-finals very soon, but it would take a huge decline in Messi's season for him to miss out on the individual awards.

Do you think Messi is the best player in the world? Have your say in the comments section below.

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