The FIFA Ballon d’Or is the annual award that is given to the player who gave the best, most consistent performances for that calendar year.
Lionel Messi has won the award the past four years in a row - an absolutely astounding statistic - with his Portuguese counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo just falling short in second place on the last two occasions.
The pint-sized Argentine is undoubtedly the best player in the world and the best of his generation in most people’s eyes - he has amazed audiences with his amazing array of talent for a number of years.
And on the basis of statistics alone, who could argue against Messi winning the prestigious award for the past four years running?
We’re talking about the man who broke pretty much every goalscoring record that he could in 2012 - he broke Gerd Müller’s record for the amount of goals scored in a calendar year with an eye-watering 91 goals.
Now, as 2013 comes to an end, we ask the question on everyone’s mind: will Lionel Messi win the coveted award for a fifth time in a row and make history yet again? In my opinion, probably not.
Cristiano Ronaldo - the only player who even comes close to matching Messi’s goalscoring exploits each year, and while Messi is more naturally talented, I believe Ronaldo is the more complete player. He’s much taller and stronger than Messi, and is superior in the air to Messi, and is also better at shooting from distance.
But this isn’t about who’s the better player overall, it’s about the best player of 2013. And I believe Ronaldo is finally about to beat Messi to the award, and win his second Ballon d’Or, and his first since he previously won it with Manchester United in 2008.
The Portuguese hitman has been in scintillating form so far this season, scoring 24 goals in 17 games for Real Madrid; he is La Liga’s top scorer with 16 goals, as well as being top scorer so far in the Champions League this season with eight goals.
It has only helped enhance Ronaldo’s odds of winning the Ballon d’Or now that Messi is out injured for the rest of 2013 with a hamstring injury. His recent performances for Portugal have also showcased what a fantastic individual talent he is. With his side having to face Sweden in a two-legged World Cup play-off that was billed as Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real Madrid star scored four times over the two legs, including a brilliant hat-trick in Sweden, and almost single-handedly dragged his side through to the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
And in a controversial turn of events, FIFA recently extended the voting for the Ballon d’Or from the previous deadline of November 15th, now to November 29th, apparently due to a low turnout of votes. This decision obviously hugely favours Cristiano Ronaldo, sparking many journalists to accuse FIFA of helping Ronaldo. Cristiano Ronaldo is now the odds-on favourite to win the prestigious accolade, with his performances as of late further cementing this position.
Taking into account all of the above, I believe Ronaldo has finally done what he set out to do by joining Real Madrid in 2009: becoming the World Player of the Year in the white of the Galacticos. And while I do recognise that Messi has been hugely unlucky in the timing of his injury, which coincided with both Ronaldo hitting his absolute peak form, and the final voting for the Ballon d’Or, a lot of credit must still go Ronaldo’s way.
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