Cristiano Ronaldo is once again among the front runners to be crowned the world’s best footballer, as the decision of who wins this year’s Ballon d’Or draws ever closer.
The Real Madrid star is expected to be challenged by four time winner Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery when the shortlist is condensed down to three men, with the final decision on the winner being made on January 13, 2014. The destination of the award will be decided by leading football journalists, coaches and national captains who currently play the game.
Ronaldo has set the benchmark for football performance and goal scoring in recent years, winning the award once already in 2008. However, Messi has scooped all four awards since then, and is also in contention to pick up an unprecedented fifth award due to his continued influence for Barcelona.
Ronaldo though has consistently improved for both club and country during the last few years and many feel he is once again deserving of football’s most coveted individual award.
The Portugal captain has had an outstanding 2013, netting an incredible 56 goals in 46 club
appearances, in addition to his international tally of seven following his goal in Portugal’s World Cup Play Off first leg against Sweden. Ronaldo’s goal scoring exploits are superior to Messi’s effort of 45 goals in 46 games, which Messi is now unable to add to after picking up an injury that is likely to keep him on the sidelines until the New Year.
Ronaldo has also raced to the top of the Spanish league’s goal scoring charts in 2013/14, netting 16 goals in 13 games so far, and 24 in all competitions for Real Madrid. His goal average so far this season is a staggering 1.4 goals per game for his club, a feat that would make him the highest scorer ever in a football season should he continue the ratio through until May. A major contributing factor to his season’s record is the fact he has scored three hat tricks, including one in the clubs’ last game against Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
However, the favourite for this year’s award with bookmakers is French winger, Ribery. He has been a key part of the all conquering Bayern Munich team of 2013, contributing important goals and assists in a season that saw Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga, German Cup and European Champions’ League. Ribery is now a part of what is considered to be the most complete team and squad in European football.
Ribery’s achievements at club level certainly outweigh that of Ronaldo, who was part of a Real Madrid team that finished runners up in both La Liga and the Copa Del Rey, and was a semi finalist in the Champions’ League. However, the Ballon d’Or is an award that is based purely on the best individual to play the game over the last year, and Ronaldo this year has certainly displayed the performances to outshine Ribery in that aspect. Both Ronaldo and Messi are considered to be two of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game, and Ronaldo’s ability to win games individually has been proven far more consistently this season than both Messi and Ribery alike.
While we will not know who wins the award until early next year, there is a growing case for Cristiano Ronaldo to win his second Ballon d’Or amongst the football community. If the player can maintain his current outstanding form over the coming weeks, he will undoubtedly be the strongest candidate for the award.
What are the qualities that set players like Ronaldo, Messi and Ribery apart from other players in the modern game?