Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi: Battle for the Ballon D'Or
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For the past few years the world of football has been dominated by two of the greatest attacking players of all time: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The football community has watched in awe as the two have commenced battle for their respective Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Goals have flowed, trophies have been raised and personal accolades have rained down on them.
However, the general consensus amongst many fans would be that Messi is the better player, with Ronaldo a close second. This viewpoint has been reflected in the little Argentinian dominating the title of World Player of the Year over the last few years, winning the title three times in succession.
Nobody would argue that he has been a deserving winner, but surely it is about time Ronaldo was recognised for his success at Real Madrid over the last few years.
Since signing for Real Madrid in 2009 for a world-record fee, the Portuguese superstar has averaged more than a goal a game as he has led the resurgence of the club under the astute management of Jose Mourinho.
His performances have been all the more impressive as he has been up against possibly the greatest club side in the history of European football in Barcelona.
I have highlighted three main reasons why Ronaldo deserves to add his second World Player of the Year crown to his bulging trophy cabinet.
1. He led Real Madrid to La Liga glory.
While Madrid have won the league many times in their grand history, they hadn't done so since 2008 and hadn't come close during this recent period, as Barcelona dominated not only in Spain but in Europe.
They broke their barren, trophy-less run the previous year when a Ronaldo header secured the Copa Del Rey, but it was the league title that they really wanted. They secured it in some style, finishing well-clear of Barca and breaking all kinds of records along the way.
Ronaldo led the charge in true swashbuckling style, scoring goals galore.
Who deserves to win the Ballon D'or in 2012?
2. He carries Real Madrid in a way that Messi never can.
Although nobody could argue that Messi is Barcelona's top player, he is surrounded by some of the greatest players in European football. The names just roll off the tongue.
Now while I would never say that Real Madrid have poor players—far from it—I don't think Barcelona would swap many of their players for Madrid's. Except maybe for Ronaldo and Iker Casillas.
Ronaldo has at times single-handedly dragged Real Madrid to success, and there is no way they would have clinched the title were it not for his consistently brilliant performances. He demands excellence from himself and those around him, and despite his diva status is a true leader of men.
3. He has enjoyed success on the international stage.
This might be slightly unfair on Messi, who didn't have an international competition this year, but Ronaldo was undoubtedly one of the shining lights at Euro 2012 in the summer.
He scored four goals on the way to the semi-final, for what was an extremely mediocre Portuguese team. In fact, the myth that Ronaldo doesn't excel at international level can now surely be dispelled.
He was outstanding in Euro 2004 and the World Cup in 2006 and would have won the Young Player of the Tournament that year were it not for a backlash following many people's interpretation that he helped get Wayne Rooney sent off in the quarter-final.
Not only did he score four goals in the tournament, he later became one of the youngest players ever to reach 100 caps for his country, and in that time he has managed to score 37 goals.
In truth, Ronaldo deserves to win the award again, not just for his performances in 2012, but over the course of the last three years of his career.
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