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Cristiano Ronaldo..

Cristiano Ronaldo's salty reaction to Messi winning the Ballon d'Or in 2011

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The two greatest footballers of their generation - Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi - are now level on Ballon d'Or awards, you simply couldn't write it.

Despite a difficult start to the 2017-18 season, Ronaldo lifted his fifth Ballon d'Or trophy atop the Eiffel Tower on Friday to crown a scintillating year for the Portuguese. 

The 32-year-old romped his way to a third Champions League title in four years, the La Liga trophy, the Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. Throw in 49 goals and 13 assists for good luck, too.

In terms of the Ballon d'Or, 2017 has seen Ronaldo extend his dominance of the accolade in recent years with a fourth victory in the past five years.

So, when you consider that the Messi-Ronaldo standings are now equal, it makes Ronaldo's past half decade seem all the more impressive. Besides, let's just say he had some catching up to do.

On January 7, 2013, Lionel Messi lifted his fourth Ballon d'Or trophy to make it four in a row and Ronaldo with another runners-up placing. 

In return, the Portuguese 'only' had the title he collected during his Manchester United career.

It was an era of dominance that he even riled Ronaldo's manager at the time - Jose Mourinho. The Special One bemoaned: "It would be a crime for Cristiano to not win the Ballon d'Or. And I keep saying it's harder to be Cristiano than Lionel Messi.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

"I'll tell you: Messi grew up in the team he plays for now; with the teammates he plays with now. Cristiano came from England to a team that was losing. He had to grow up in the past two years with this team in construction.

"One plays centre forward and the other is a winger. Messi is about 50 metres closer to the goal and has less defensive work.

"How can a winger score the same amount of goals as a centre forward does?"

Even by 2011, the signs of frustration from Ronaldo were clear and he even dropped a comment about the Ballon d'Or that would look very strange now.

Winning the coveted European Golden Shoe award that year, Ronaldo said: "The Ballon d'Or is votes, but the Golden Shoe is goals, it doesn't depend on anyone's votes."

Well, true but undoubtedly salty.

FBL-EU-GOLDEN-SHOE-RONALDO

Considering Ronaldo's slow goal scoring form so far this season, he probably shouldn't complain that the Ballon d'Or doesn't revolve solely around goals.

Besides, rather uncannily, it was Messi who picked up the Golden Shoe this year and there was no moaning from the Argentine.

Bring on 2018. Who do you think will finish their career with the most Ballon d'Or titles - Ronaldo or Messi? Have your say in the comments section below. 

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