As predictions regarding the Ballon D'or continue to emerge at an increasing pace, the footballing world seems to have settled on two leading candidates: Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery.
While votes have already been submitted and cannot be changed, I want to make a last minute case for the man I think would be a deserved and rightful winner of the award: Cristiano Ronaldo.
My argument comes down to one undeniable fact: the Ballon D'or is an award for individual excellence and I think it can be established without a doubt that Ronaldo has had a better year as an individual than Ribery has.
To put it in statistical terms, Ribery and Lionel Messi together have scored a combined 64 goals this year. Ronaldo has scored 67 alone. That statistic alone should put the decision beyond any reasonable doubt. In terms of individual excellence, Ronaldo stands head and shoulders above Franck Ribery.
Given these statistics alone, one may be wonder where Ribery's challenge for the Ballon d'Or even comes from. Ribery supporters point to Bayern Munich's incredible season as evidence for his deserving of the award.
The best player on the best team should win the award, right? Wrong.
If that were true, Robin Van Persie would have won the PFA Player of the Year last year. Rightfully however, Bale did. While Madrid have struggled in the last few weeks without Ronaldo in the side (although Bale has begun picking up some of the slack), Bayern are rampant with or without Ribery.
Real Madrid depend on Cristiano to provide the impetus, Bayern have three other players in Arjen Robben, Mario Gotze, and Thomas Muller who are capable of picking up the slack. Was Bayern undisputedly the best team in 2013? Yes. Was Ribery the best player at Bayern Munich? Yes.
However, in terms of individual excellence, Ribery can never dream of stacking up with the graceful might of Cristiano Ronaldo. These last four months alone, Ronaldo has scored fourty goals and provided eight assists - Ribery is only 16 and 11. In fact, Luis Suarez with 35 goals and seven assists has been far more impressive than Franck Ribery. Maybe give him a shot at the award instead.
The Ballon D'or is the bastion of individuality, of striving to be the best, and of standing out as amongst the best in the world. Ribery may have one five trophies, but I personally doubt that Bayern would have suffered without him in the team.
In a sense, the Ballon D'or is a celebration of courage and willpower, manifested in individual excellence. In every such category, Ronaldo comes out on top.
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