Messi vs Ronaldo
Ronaldo is no longer the buccaneering young lad who thrived on spectacular solo runs
The recent 1-1 draw between Real Madrid and Barcelona left the match-up between superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo evenly poised – at least for this season.
Overall, the diminutive Argentinian maestro rules the roost, ending up on the winning side in 14 of the 28 competitive games the two played against each other. By comparison, Ronaldo has nine wins under his belt.
That, at least, is the story on the field of play, so to say.
In the banquet halls, where the individual awards are handed out, the Portuguese striker has taken a 1-0 lead and is expected to turn that into a two-award cushion in a few weeks when Fifa announces its player of the year.
At the beginning of this week, Ronaldo beat off his main rival to win the coveted Ballon d’Or, which was awarded for the first time again this year, having merged with the Fifa award in 2010.
The two players have just about made all global individual awards their own since 2007, when striker Kaka was the last player not named Messi or Ronaldo to win an individual award, taking both the Fifa award and the Ballon d’Or.
Since then, Barcelona’s Messi picked up the Fifa world player of the year in 2009, the Ballon d’Or in the same year and the Fifa Ballon d’Or in 2010, 2011, 2012 and last year.
In that time, Ronaldo won the 2008 Fifa World Player of the Year Award, the Ballon d’Or (2008, 2016) and the Fifa Ballon d’Or in 2013 and 2014.
Such is their dominance that they finished runners-up to each other on all but one occasion, with Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta the only one to gate-crash the party by finishing second behind Messi for the Fifa Ballon d’Or in 2010.
Ronaldo was the overwhelming favourite to lift the Ballon d’Or this time around, and thus, when he was seen holding the trophy in a leaked cover of France Football – the magazine that organises and ultimately awards the accolade – several hours before the official announcement was made, few people were surprised. Ronaldo has the advantage It is not only in terms of the matches the two have played against each other this year that Ronaldo has the slight advantage of one game won and one game drawn, it is also in terms of trophies won.
Ronaldo won the Champions League with Real Madrid and then helped Portugal to their first major trophy, picking up the Euro tournament over the European summer. The 31-year-old is aware that winning the two gave him the advantage.
“It was an unforgettable year, possibly the best of my career on a collective and individual level. I must respect the Champions League, which is an impressive trophy, but I appreciate more the trophy I won with Portugal, which was a step higher,” he said.
“It’s my job, my profession, and I really sacrifice myself. When you win something, it’s important that I put the team first. If Real Madrid and Portugal didn’t win anything, I couldn’t win this trophy.”
Chances are that Ronaldo will add the Fifa award, which since this year has again split from the France Football one, early next year. Anything but a Ronaldo victory, which would allow the Real Madrid player to add that to the ever growing number of individual awards that find themselves in his personal trophy cabinet, would be a huge surprise.
However, winning the Fifa player award on January 9 in Zurich might give him a 2-0 lead for the season, but would only tie the overall contest as Messi still leads that 6-5.
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