Image from bleacherreport.net
When Cristiano Ronaldo ascends to the stage at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala on January 13 to claim his Ballon d’Or trophy, it will not be a surprise to football fans around the world.
“CR7” will be an incredibly deserving recipient of such a prestigious honour – 2013 has seen Ronaldo elevate himself to new heights, putting on otherworldly displays for both club and country, all the while trying to eclipse Messi and reclaim the award which he will feel is rightfully his.
Ronaldo last won the award in 2008 (when the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or were seperate awards – as of 2010 they were combined into the FIFA Ballon d’Or) off the back of a stellar season with Manchester United that saw him rewrite the role of the “winger.”
But ever since winning the Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo has continued to find himself second place on the podium – always trumped by the magic of Lionel Messi.
The fleet-footed Argentinian has won the award four consecutive times (one of which was before the award was officially renamed as the FIFA Ballon d’Or) and even Ronaldo himself would never dismiss Messi’s brilliance.
But even with the perceived dominance of Messi, Ronaldo’s statistics and performances since joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 have been nothing short of spectacular.
CR7 has shattered numerous records whilst playing at Madrid: he became the first ever player to score against every single team in a La Liga campaign, as well as becoming the first player to score 20 away goals in a La Liga season.
On top of that, he became the fastest ever (that is including Messi) scorer of 150 goals in La Liga; a record that may never be broken.
And then there’s the important one for Madrid fans – Cristiano became the first ever player to score in six consecutive Clásicos, proving to be a thorn for rivals Barcelona and the man for the big occasion for Real Madrid.
The truth is that despite falling to capture the award over Lionel Messi for the last four years, CR7 has never been far behind.
But 2013 belongs to Ronaldo.
The Madeira-born superstar has undoubtedly been the best player on the planet over the last 12 months, and his phenomenal goalscoring tally will conquer Lionel Messi once and for all.
Ronaldo scored a breathtaking 69 goals in only 60 appearances for club and country in 2013, meanwhile, the injury-ravaged Messi managed only (I say only, but the numbers are still outstanding) 45 goals in 46.
Madrid have profited greatly from Ronaldo’s hell-bent pursuit of once again being recognized as the world’s best player, and lately, Portugal have also started to rely heavily on Ronaldo’s ability.
For a man who has been criticized over his form for his national team, Ronaldo has seen a remarkable transformation – he scored 10 goals in only 9 games for Portugal in 2013, four of those coming in the 4-2 aggregate victory over Sweden in the World Cup playoffs.
In the process, Ronaldo became Portugal’s joint-highest goalscorer, tying Pauleta on 47 goals for his country. At the rate CR7 has been going, he’ll obliterate Pauleta’s record.
Portugal’s mercurial captain has finally quashed the nonsense that he does not perform for his country, and his heroics at the 2012 European Championships and at the tail-end of the World Cup 2014 qualifiers have showcased the impact that he has for his compatriots and his country.
Ronaldo has dwarfed all other players in world football over the last year (an honourable mention to Franck Ribery, who although had a brilliant treble-winning season with Bayern Munich, can sadly not compete with the earth-shattering goalscoring of CR7 and Messi) and the world will recognize his talent once again, when he will inevitably end his four-year drought on January 13.
For Ronaldo, the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala can surely be no more than a formality – there can only be one winner, and it will be Ronaldo who reclaims the honour after years of watching Messi take the plaudits.
After all, his performances over the course of 2013 don’t just deserve the FIFA Ballon d’Or, they demand it.