As we stumble headlong into the New Year, the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony looms large.
Cristiano Ronaldo's claim to be the rightful recipient is genuine after a sensational year which saw him score an astonishing 61 goals for club and country, set a new record for goals in a Champions League season and win both the European Cup and Copa Del Rey.
Despite such a glowing 2014 CV, Lionel Messi's own claims for an unprecedented 5th title are building up a head of steam in much the same way as Ronaldo's after he single-handedly destroyed Sweden last year.
Real Madrid's frankly embarrassing defence of their man, after it was hinted that Messi might be making a decent fist of it after all, has done nothing but jeopardise Ronaldo's right to the accolade.
Ronaldo's claim to title under scrutiny
Various football dignitaries are now at pains to point out that:
a) Ronaldo departed the World Cup with a whimper whilst Messi almost single-handedly took his Argentina side to victory.
b) Ronaldo didn't even play in the Copa del Rey Final.
c) His contribution in the Champions League Final was very poor and his goal merely added some gloss to the result. A result that looked unlikely for 92 minutes against Atletico Madrid.
Messi's enviable 2014 CV
d) Messi scored 58 goals in what is considered to be a "bad" year for him. Just three behind Ronaldo's "best ever" year in terms of goals scored.
e) Messi broke the all-time La Liga scoring record, held for 60 years by Telmo Zarra.
f) Messi broke the all-time Champions League scoring record held by Raul.
g) Messi has become the only player in history to score 7+ goals in seven successive seasons in the Champions League.
Perhaps Real Madrid felt the need to defend Ronaldo, not only because there were whispers that Messi could be a contender, but because when you read the above, it's pretty obvious who deserves the award more.
Criteria should be properly defined
That the criteria for the award itself has never really been properly defined is a bit of a moot point at this stage. If Sepp Blatter and his cronies want to return some sort of prestige to the awarding of the "Golden Ball" then moving forward, a clear set of metrics needs to be made available.
Until then pro-Ronaldo and pro-Messi personnel will always find a way in which to justify why their man deserves to be called the world's best.
Let the countdown begin...