Messi vs. Ronaldo. Who is the best player of this generation?
It's the debate that divides fans the world over.
There are countless fans on both sides of the argument, many who cannot even acknowledge the undeniable talent of one player because of their devotion to another.
This article will not settle that debate. In fact, fans' opinions are so solidified at this point that I doubt any article could.
This piece will provide reasons that Ronaldo can outshine Messi in La Liga next season.
The Portuguese star won La Liga last season and was a penalty shootout away from the Euro 2012 final. Does what does that mean going into his battle with Messi next season?
Read on to find out. Here are the top three reasons Ronaldo can outshine Messi in Spain's Primera Division in the 2012-2012 season.
With all due respect to Alexis Sanchez, Pedro and the rest of Barcelona's forwards, there is no better attacking force in all of football than the one at Real Madrid.
The trio of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain were simply unstoppable last season. Combined, they scored a record 89 goals in La Liga.
By playing out wide, Ronaldo's main opposition is a fullback as opposed to two center backs and a defensive midfielder.
By comparison, Messi is the main focus of Barcelona's attack.
Playing in the center instead of out wide like Ronaldo automatically increases the bodies marking him, but not having enough support makes it worse.
Why is this an advantage for Ronaldo?
Because it takes enormous pressure off of him on the wings. Opposing defenses cannot afford to give too much attention to CR7 because doing so allows Madrid's other two 20-goal threats too much space.
Last season, Messi scored 44 percent of all of Barcelona's goals. Defenses know that shutting down Messi is the key to keeping a clean sheet.
So not only is he Barcelona's main threat, last season he was the only consistent one.
Messi looked exhausted by season's end and will need more help in order to stay healthy and outperform Ronaldo. An aging David Villa and a team full of wingers may not be enough to do that.
As if he needed any more reason to be confident.
Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Premier League, the Champions League and la Copa del Rey. He is a Ballon d'Or winner. His past girlfriends alone are enough to make most men unbreakable.
Last season he added to that by ending Barcelona's reign under Pep Guardiola. He finally helped Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho win La Liga.
What does this mean for next season?
Now Ronaldo can enter next season with unmatched confidence. He is now playing on the best team in the league.
CR7 knows he can beat Barcelona, even at Camp Nou. He knows he can score against every team in La Liga. He knows he can score from almost anywhere on the pitch.
For a man who aims to be the best player in football, there are few traits more dangerous to opponents than confidence.
I wonder how someone can stay motivated after having achieved so much already...
How frustrating a sight for Ronaldo.
After failing to lead Portugal to victory over Spain at Euro 2012, CR7 had to watch Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and Sergio Busquets run across the pitch in victory.
That image has become all too familiar for Ronaldo since joining La Liga in 2009.
Portugal matched the world's best team for over 120 minutes, but lost in penalties. The man who took most of the attacks for the loss was—you guessed it—Ronaldo.
By failing to take a penalty in the first four spots—as most teams' best takers do—Ronaldo received tons of criticism for not only failing to score against Spain, but failing to lead Portugal.
As unfair as those criticisms may have been, Ronaldo still had a less than stellar Euro campaign.
He managed to score three goals—one against the worst defense in his group and the other against one of the tournament's lesser teams.
Regardless of how others view Ronaldo's tournament, we can be certain that he was not happy with his performance. CR7 strives for perfection and he was far from his best.
What does that mean for next season?
It means La Liga defenses will now have to face a highly motivated Ronaldo who will look to silence anyone who questioned his ability or his leadership.
Spain deserves a lot of credit, but no La Liga defenders will be thanking them any time soon.
Cristiano Ronaldo is now in his prime and was virtually unstoppable last season. Now, after losing to Spain in another major tournament, he is as motivated as he has ever been.
Even the biggest, most biased Lionel Messi fan will find it hard to find a fault in Cristiano Ronaldo's game.
People may question his character, but there is no denying his talent and natural ability to entertain.
Now, in the middle of his prime, Ronaldo will try to retake his throne as La Liga's top scorer and best performer.
The only man who poses a legitimate threat to Ronaldo's title as the best player in football is his club and league rival, Lionel Messi.
Whether you are a fan of Real Madrid or Barcelona, Ronaldo or Messi, we the fans are witnessing arguably the greatest individual rivalry in the history of football.
If the last three seasons are any indication, the 2012-2013 season could have both of these players at their very best—which is on a level above every other player in football.