If there is one player who could beat Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or, it is Cristiano Ronaldo. The flamboyant Portuguese attacker is widely considered to be one of the best players on the planet. After spending a couple of seasons in Messi’s shadow, Ronaldo has emerged as an even stronger candidate this year to lift football’s most coveted individual trophy.
One among Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi will be all smiles on 7 January at the FIFA’s Annual Gala in Zurich. With Iniesta being a dark horse in this race, Ronaldo has a real chance of ousting Messi from his throne. Goal.com lists three reasons why Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the award and looks back at some of his best performances in 2012…
An Outstanding Performance at Euro 2012
Portugal’s brilliant run at the Euros even after being drawn into the ‘Group of Death’ was a feat worth of appreciation and Cristiano Ronaldo was at the centre of proceedings. He wasn’t influential in the first two group games but he didn’t disappoint when his country needed him the most. He scored twice against the Netherlands and a match winning header against the Czech Republic to lead his team to the semis. He ended up as the tournament’s joint top scorer but the eventual Golden Boot was given to Spain’s Fernando Torres.
|"Ronaldo can do whatever he wants as a footballer. There are some things which he does with the ball that make me touch my head and wonder how he did it."
- Luis Figo
Cristiano Ronaldo might have managed only three goals at Euro 2012 but he hit the goal post a total of five times, more than any other player, and only a matter of inches separated him from bagging and even bigger goal tally. The Real Madrid man was also named in the Team of the Tournament along with fellow nominee Andres Iniesta.
Compared to Messi, Ronaldo fared much better in the Euros than Messi did in the Copa America the previous year, which a lot of people would agree to.
Record Breaking Season
Cristiano Ronaldo won the league title with Real Madrid in 2012 and managed to reach the semifinals of the Champions League for the second consecutive time. Ronaldo ended the season with 46 league goals, 12 assists and 7 hat-tricks, enviable stats for any player in the world. He also recorded the fastest hat-trick of the season as he managed three goals in 12 minutes 12 seconds against Levante.
Ronaldo guided Madrid to their highest ever points tally (100) in the league along with most number of away wins, overall wins, goals scored and the best goal difference the club has seen in its illustrious history. There is no doubt how integral Ronaldo’s contributions have been towards Real Madrid’s record breaking season. He managed to score against every team in the league and has been on the score sheet in seven consecutive El Clasicos. He broke several Real Madrid records in 2012 as he become the player with most goals scored in the season and in the league for the Blancos.
|STATS FOR PORTUGAL AND REAL MADRID||GAMES||GOALS||ASSISTS|
The former Manchester United man’s impact factor is better comparing to Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Time and again Ronaldo has delivered for club and country and it comes as no surprise that he has fared better in Clasicos in the last year. He scored the winning goal at the Camp Nou which almost certainly sealed the title for the Galacticos, he also scored twice at the Camp Nou in October to earn a point off record setting Barcelona. Ironically, those are the only points the Catalans have dropped so far in the league. He was also instrumental in the Supercopa at the start of the year. Ronaldo also scored three crucial goals for his country at the Euros.
|"I think he deserves the recognition because of what he's achieved with Manchester United, Real Madrid and Portugal. I'd vote for him. He's been spectacular since 4-5 years in a row and has won only once, so I'd choose him."
- Luiz Felipe Scolari
Top 5 performances in 2012
1. Barcelona 1-2 Real Madrid, La Liga, 21 April 2012:
Arguably the most important match of the season for either side as each one looked to topple the other for the league title and in the end it was Mourinho’s men who emerged victorious at the Camp Nou. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the game’s winner in the 73rd minute after Alexis Sanchez had leveled scores in the 70th minute. This victory effectively ended Barcelona’s title challenge and once again Cristiano Ronaldo was at the centre of proceedings.
2. Portugal 2-1 Netherlands, 3rd Group Game, Euro 2012, 17 June 2012:
After two disappointing performances in the first two Euro 2012 group games, he stepped up to deliver when his team needed him the most and scored two goals to fire Portugal into the quarterfinals. He finished off brilliantly twice after falling behind early in the game. He hit the post twice and proved a constant threat for the Dutch defense as he kept troubling them throughout the whole game. This was his best individual performance at the Euros.
3. Czech Rep 0-1 Portugal, Quarterfinal, Euro 2012, 21 June 2012:
Single-handedly dragging Portugal into the quarters, the Real Madrid man was on target against the Czech as he scored to set up a semifinal date with Spain. It was yet another match winning performance as his 79th minute header was enough for a victory. He always looked most likely to break the deadlock as he peppered the Czech goal with all kinds of shots.
4. Barcelona 2-2 Real Madrid, La Liga, 7 October 2012:
Once again leading from the front for Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo matched Lionel Messi blow for blow in this thrilling encounter. He ended up scoring both of Madrid’s goals to earn a well deserved draw at the Camp Nou. Opened the scoring with a well-placed goal, and was equally adept at facilitating his side in attack time and time again. He was simply too fast and too deadly for Barca to handle when he stole in to slot home his second goal.
5. Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid, La Liga, 2 December 2012:
When Real Madrid hosted Atletico Madrid in the league in a game touted to be a battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao, the Portuguese eclipsed the Colombian and served a reminder that he is still among the top two players in the world. CR7 scored a gem of a free-kick to put his side in the lead and later assisted Mesut Ozil who doubled the scoreline in the second half. Ronaldo went on to hit the crossbar and the post in the game and also ran 96 metres in 10 seconds in one of the counterattacks!
Cristiano Ronaldo might be feeling that the whole world is unfair after seeing Lionel Messi winning three consecutive Ballon d’Ors. However, 2012 can really be his year because of his achievements and consistent performances throughout the campaign. Ronaldo may not have Iniesta’s silky movement or Messi’s nitty gritty dribbling but the Portuguese is the “ideal” football player with a good physique, great strength and an indomitable spirit to win every game. If anyone deserves the Ballon this year, it has to be the Real Madrid star as he has time and again proved his mettle for both the Merengues and the Seleccao.
|Does Ronaldo deserve to win the Ballon d'Or? Leave your comments below or discuss with the writer on Twitter @kishenpatel10.|
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