The Ballon d’Or race has been essentially boiled down to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The latter has won the last two titles, all the while making a convincing case for the best player on the planet.
On the whole, the short list for the award features 23 players, with 12 of them coming from La Liga.
The Premier League candidates can be counted on one hand: Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and Robin van Persie. Rooney is the only Englishman on the ballot. They’re all considered longshots to score the honor.
The likely second runner-up is Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, mainly for his poignant contributions at Euro 2012. While some have called for his inclusion in the discussion between the world’s top two, those calls have been crickets in the grand scheme.
Yet, how will the world remember the last year in La Liga? It marked the season in which Real Madrid took back the championship and Cristiano reasserted himself into the world's view.
As for the rest of the big matches, they are pretty much split down the middle between the two players. Both players did not go further than the Champions Leagues semis, while they split the Copa del Rey and Supercup.
That's what makes the Spanish league final a defining moment in this voting.
In any La Liga fan's mind, Ronaldo’s goal at Camp Nou in the 72nd minute will be the lasting image from an amazing season.
Who Will Win the Award?
After all, winning always beats out accolades. I’m sure even Messi would agree.
That’s where Ronaldo can make his argument. The Spanish championship gives him an extra boost in the team-play department.
However, if players and coaches believe stats rule above all else, than Messi should be favored.
He scored a league-record 50 goals, including eight hat tricks—yet another record. Ronaldo also broke the record as well, but ultimately finished behind Messi, with 46 goals and seven hat tricks to his name.
To sum it up, Ronaldo has a legitimate chance to win the Ballon d’Or against Messi, close to a 50-50 shot by this writer’s calculations. Only a voter or two may end up tipping the scales.