The ballon D’or. The one trophy every footballer would want to win apart from of course the World Cup but as an individual award. it surpasses awards such as a league’s top scorer as if you are rewarded the Ballon D’or, you are considered the best player in the world and you have a trophy to prove it. The list of potential recipients of the golden ball this year was phenomenal with the likes of Neymar,Bale,Ibrahimovic, Robin Van Persie and others. Then on the 9th of December, the 3 man shortlist was announced which consisted of Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery, Real Madrid’s Cristinao Ronaldo who won the prestigious award in 2009 while playing for Manchester United and Barcelona’s pint-sized magician Lionel Messi who has won the Ballon D’or an amazing 4 times in a row, a feat that has never been done before. This year, the race for the Ballon D’or is arguably the tightest in recent years, with all three players having exceptional seasons and the trio all publicly stating that they are convinced that they have won it, the Ballon D’or gala will be one to watch.
Club: Bayern Munich
Once described as ‘the jewel of French football’ by footballing great Zinedine Zidane, Ribery has most definitely proven that over the years at Bayern and for the French national team and had a record-breaking season last year, winning the quadruple with Bayern Munich and qualifying for the world cup. Some strong points in Franck’s play is his blistering pace, his crosses, his pinpoint passing and of course his dribbling which is 2nd to none. Franck’s style of play is very generic winger play, although the Frenchman brings his own twists into the mix, as well as possessing speed and dribbling, he is very strong meaning he can hold the ball well thus being very good at holding up play, something that was very important and vital to his team’s success as he could essentially control the tempo of the match by his capability of keeping on the ball. Ribery is also very good at dead-ball situations, much like Gareth Bale, taking powerful direct hits but is capable of whipping in a dangerous cross from a set piece.
Bayern Munich had arguably their best season ever and one of the best seasons ever in the history of football by winning the quadruple and Franck Ribery was at the heart of that success. Ribery isn’t renown for his goal scoring as he only scored 16 goals last season (10 goals in the Bundesliga, 5 in World Cup qualifiers and 1 in the Champions League) but he is a traditional winger, meaning he gets assists in bundles. He was the Bundesliga’s top assister with 15 assists and getting a total of 29 assists. If you take this all into account, Ribery is the perfect winner to win the Ballon D’or as his individual performance was world-class and was the most decorated player last season out of the three in the shortlist. Although the Ballon D’or is an individual award and his success was mainly through his team and their efforts.
Club: Real Madrid
Ronaldo had the only trophyless season out of the three players, finishing 2nd in the La liga standings 15 points behind champions Barcelona and losing the Copa Del Rey final to Atletico Madrid as well as been humiliated by Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals in the Champions League and getting beat 4-0 in the first leg. Ronaldo himself has had an amazing year scoring an astonishing 70 goals in 60 appearances for both Madrid and Portugal while his La Liga rival Messi scored 45, a number that looks measly compared to Ronaldo’s 2013 goal tally. Ronaldo is a very versatile player, being able to play on either wing and as a centre forward and even as an out-and-out striker, though he isn’t very comfortable being a number 9. If you watch him play, one thing you’ll notice straight away is his raw speed and dominating stature. Ronaldo is one of the quickest players in the world and probably of all time and is up there with the likes of Pele and team-mate Bale in terms of sprint speed off the mark. The former United man is also a very good player who often likes to show boat for the crowd, mostly in his younger days at Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon. Cristiano is a player who isn’t afraid of taking a shot from distance with a powerful right foot second to none, he was scored from as far as 45 yards out, most memorable being his 40 yard screamer against Arsenal in the Champions League. He also carried Portugal to book their place in this year’s World Cup, scoring 4 goals to beat Sweden 4-2 on aggregate in the world cup play-offs.
Real Madrid as a team didn’t achieve to get any silverware last season but Ronaldo had one of his best seasons ever as a player, up there with the 2007-08 season when he won the Premier League and Champions League with Manchester United. Last season Ronaldo finished 2nd top scorer in La Liga with 34 goals and also managed to get 11 goals and got to 6th on the assists table. That is probably Ronaldo’s biggest asset to his game, as well as scoring 30-40 goals in a season, he also gets 20-30 assists in a season, making him a well-rounded players. But Ronaldo is an unorthodox winger and the first of his kind. A winger who scores a lot of goals. Before Ronaldo, wingers traditionally never scored many goals but Ronaldo completely changed that. He gets as many goals and most times even more goals in a season then some of the best strikers and centre forwards and this shows how much he works in a season.
Position: Striker/Centre Forward
What can I say about Messi? Has been the winner of the Ballon D’or a record 4 times in a row and did deserve to win them, however unfair and bias you FIFA towards Messi, you cannot deny the man’s talent and last year did fully deserve to win, scoring 91 goals in a calendar year is some achievement. Last season Messi had mild success by winning La liga and did so comfortably by 15 points, and finished as top scorer with 46 goals, a massive 12 goals difference between him and 2nd top scorer, fellow Ballon D’or contender Ronaldo. The Argentine also finished 3rd in the assists table with 12 assists and as always, put in an amazing performance in the Champions League, scoring 8 goals and getting 3 assists before Barcelona were knocked out Bayern Munich who went on to win the CL, 7-0.
Messi seems to have it all and it is very hard to find a weak spot in his play apart from the obvious heading due to his hight but has scoring more than plenty goals with his head to class heading as a weakness. His hight gives him amazing agility and ability to weave in and out of players and mesmerize the world with his dribbling which just looks so elegant and it seems like the ball was made to stick to Leo’s feet. His finishing is arguably the best in the world as his record shows, currently with 362 goals in 469 appearances in all competitions and his goal tally is just unbelievable and hard to take in that this little 5’6 man could have so much talent. Though 2013 has been a good year for Messi, it has been riddled with injuries.
In my opinion, for just the sheer amount of goals Ronaldo has scored and him being 2nd best to Messi for so long, Cristiano Ronaldo should win the Ballon D’or.