Cristiano Ronaldo might well have finally done it. With the way he took his national side and carried them on his strapping shoulders all the way to Brazil with a sumptuous hat-trick in Sweden, some have labelled the 19th of November as the day Ronaldo wrestled the Ballon d’Or from the unrelenting grasp of Lionel Messi.
It’s just that I don’t believe he should do.
Let me make something clear here; Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the best player in the world currently. Nobody can touch him, and he is obliterating Real Madrid records left, right and centre. Nobody can erase his accomplishments, because they are absolutely phenomenal.
However, the Ballon d’Or is representative of a calendar year worth of football, and this is where the argument for Ronaldo to win begins to fall apart.
Firstly, there is an element of right place, right time about Ronaldo’s current achievements and performances. As harsh as it sounds, Ronaldo is the best in the world by default almost at the moment. While his performances have been great, this has also coincided with Messi struggling with injuries for large chunks of 2013, hampering his performances.
If Ronaldo had been matching and bettering a Messi hitting the heights that he previously did, then the Portuguese could have more of a legitimate claim to the throne this year. As it stands, he realistically only has a body of three outstanding months.
Secondly, team accolades should come into the equation too, and unfortunately for Ronaldo, Real Madrid came up with a round zero for trophies this year (looking only at the year and not the season, where all Madrid achieved was the Spanish Supercup).
Ronaldo’s rivals have more compelling arguments in this department. Messi and Barcelona have the Spanish league title again, while Neymar has the Confederations Cup. And then there is Bayern Munich, with their barbaric haul of trophies this year. Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Phillip Lahm have legitimate claims to be shoo-ins for a top three berth in the Ballon d’Or standings. Ronaldo’s year simply does not hold a candle to theirs.
And finally, his heroic performance in the World Cup play-offs presents another argument against him. Why were Portugal even in the play-offs? Their group was hardly brutal, yet his side still lost to Russia, drew with Northern Ireland and also couldn’t beat Israel when it mattered. Is this Ronaldo’s fault? Not at all, but these are still part of his year, and things didn’t all click for him until the last three months. And for the sake of fairness, these same arguments can be levelled at the likes of Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luis Suarez.
Ronaldo has hit upon a rich vein of form, and if he carries it into and through 2014, then he can stake a legitimate claim to next year’s Ballon d’Or. If he carries Portugal to a triumphant World Cup, he may even be able to stake a legitimate claim to be the best player ever. But the best player in the whole of 2013? Not quite.
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