On Monday 13 January, ex players, current players and sporting elite will gather at the Kongresshaus in Zurich to crown the winner of the 2013 Ballon d'Or from the shortlist of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery.
Messi could potentially win his fourth Ballon d'Or and fifth World Player of the Year in a row. Ronaldo will be hungry for the award, having not won it since 2008, and being runner-up to Messi for the last two years. This is Ribery's first appearance in the top three and maybe could be his chance for recognition after years of being at the top of world football.
Based on statistics alone, Ribery deserves to win the Ballon d'Or by a landslide. He has a better winning percentage than both of his counterparts and therefore has won more trophies, five in the 2012/13 season to be exact. His dribbling stats are a sight to be marvelled at; 1,084 with a 45.57% completion rate. So why is it he isn't the favourite for the award? One word: goals.
Including all competitions and World Cup qualification, Ribery only has 22 goals to his name from 52 games, which by any winger/attackers standards is poor for a man playing at what is currently considered the best team in the world: Bayern Munich. When you look at the other choices for the award it's easy to see why Ribery isn't first pick.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portugal and Real Madrid talisman, has scored 66 in 56 which for a man that is based mainly on the left wing is incredible. Weirdly the stat that lets him down is what we've come to know him by, his dribbling. He's only attempted 252 with a completion rate of 46.03%, which compared to Ribery is abysmal.
Many in world football see strikers and wingers as the most selfish species of footballer, probably because they expect the service and don't expect to have to pass unless absolutely necessary. This fact is no more true than for Ronaldo, whom has only attempted 1,901 passes in an entire season. Ribery on the other hand has attempted 1,002 more but more crucially, has succeeded in completing almost 10% more than the Galactico.
Now we come to the little man whom has won the Ballon d'Or for the last four years on the trot. For many, Lionel Messi has been the world's best player for the last five years, and with good reason. He guided Barcelona to two Champions League titles in three years and has single handedly ripped apart most of the teams in La Liga.
However most of his success has come from having two of the best creative midfielders in the world sat behind him, giving him the freedom to score goal after goal, game after game. A rare side of Barcelona was shown earlier this season when, dramatically, Messi was injured and told he would be out for three months.
I was one of the many people that believed Barcelona would crumble without Messi at the helm but quite the opposite happened. In the summer Barcelona recruited Neymar jr, commonly thought of as the best Brazilian at the moment, and critics wondered how the Brazilian and Argentine could co-exist, but in the latters absence Neymar jr has blossomed and with him brought forward the talents of Spanish wonder kid Pedro and Chilean Alexis Sanchez.
Between them, these three supposedly egotistical attackers put their minds together and not only kept Barcelona at the top of La Liga but did it in style. Statistically, Messi is very similar to Ronaldo if not slightly worse.
If I could chose the winner here and now it would be Ronaldo, purely because of his ridiculous goal tally and skill as a winger. However, as a team player and amount of trophies won Ribery deserves the title, which is where I must hand over the decision to the panel of experienced judges.
I'm sure we would all like to see Ronaldo pick up that shiny gold football for the first time and for Messi to take a back seat for once, but when it comes down to it it's very hard to split all three.
We'll have to wait and see who we shall be calling the best player in the world for a calendar year.
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