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Cristiano Ronaldo on the verge of Ballon d'Or glory again

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Perhaps it is a harsh judgement, but Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be the type who requires external validation, despite all of his self-evident wondrous gifts. Here, in Zurich at the Ballon d'Or ceremony, he will get just that tomorrow.

Ronaldo is a force of nature. Or perhaps better put, he is a machine forged by nature. But for all his physical gifts therein lies perhaps a much less hardened core. Not in terms of his drive to be the best, but in the acknowledgement that he is the best.

Rivals

Of course, his every move and shot is contextualised by the great ever-present shadow in his life, Lionel Messi. They are Batman and the Joker, polar opposites and fierce rivals, but unable to live without the other. They make each other great. The consequence of that it seems is a certain amount of pining for recognition.

There was of course the drama of last year when there was the threat that Ronaldo wouldn't turn up to the ceremony because of comments made by Sepp Blatter while addressing the Oxford Student Union. There were the reports that claimed he was 'sad' at Real Madrid because, in part at least, he didn't feel as though he was getting enough support from his club in his quest to be the best. Not compared to the work being done by Barcelona for Messi, anyway.

Vulnerable

If you are the master of your domain, it seems it pays to be reminded once in a while. Even for the man ostentatious enough to celebrate a penalty in a Champions League final that was already done as though he'd scored the match winner.

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He needn't worry however. If the game can be reduced down to the bare bones, to statistics, then his work over the last 12 months stand him in good stead. To paraphrase Brian Clough, he's not necessarily the best, but he's in the top one.

For both club and country, he scored 61 goals in 60 appearances in 2014. This year he has gone into hyperspace, banging 26 goals in 16 La Liga appearances. Let those numbers soak in for a bit. We are witnessing history being made; the sheer volume of goals makes the mind boggle. They are the kind of figures you see listed in dusty history books by obscure names. But Ronaldo is doing it in full technicolour.

Records

For those who watched with arched eyebrows as he struggled through the World Cup with a crumbling knee especially, 2014 was a year to behold for the former Manchester United man. La Decima was the jewel in the crown.

For Messi in particular it has been a chastising year, one in which he has struggled with adversity on and off the pitch. For once it is Ronaldo who has avoided scrutiny and gone serenely about his frightening business.

Rewards

So tomorrow will mark the culmination of a glittering year, of a year when Ronaldo was allowed to shine on his own for a change. Messi, and of course Manuel Nueur - finally landing a blow for the chronically under-represented goalkeeper fraternity - will be there, suited and booted and watching on.

They'll watch a perma-tanned Ronaldo earn his third Golden Ball. And you know what? He'll love every second of it, and drink in every drop of sweet success. Because, despite his monstrous physical appearance and relentless pursuit of perfection, he is only human after all.

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Topics:
Ballon d'Or
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Manuel Neuer
Football

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