Cristiano Ronaldo has moved one step closer to the second Ballon d’Or award of his career, but he will fall short once again this season.
Fox News Latino reported that FIFA has narrowed down the candidates for the annual honor to Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Ronaldo.
The Portuguese star last won the award in 2008, before it merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2010. Since these two accolades have joined, Messi has been the only winner, and his streak will continue.
While Ronaldo will likely finish second in the voting, Iniesta will receive credit due to his achievements on the international stage.
Each of the three finalists has convincing arguments in their favor, but one clearly has the best résumé.
For Iniesta, he once again played an integral role for the Spanish national team as they bested the competition at Euro 2012 and won their third consecutive major tournament.
The 28-year-old playmaker does not have goal and assist totals that can compare to Messi and Ronaldo’s statistics, but his exceptional passing and versatility are qualities that make him vital to both Spain and Barcelona’s success in 2012.
Although Spain relied on him to achieve historic results, La Roja also received fantastic performances from several other players, and Iniesta will ultimately finish third due to the staggering rate at which Messi and Ronaldo have hit the back of the net in 2012.
Ronaldo’s major accomplishment this year was winning La Liga and contributing 46 goals and 12 assists to his team’s campaign.
However, Messi scored 50 times and had 16 assists for Barcelona this past season. His 73 goals in all competitions is an all-time European record, as were his 14 goals in Barça’s Champions League campaign.
Which Ballon d'Or finalist is most deserving of the award?
The Argentine currently has 84 goals in 2012, which puts him one goal short of Gerd Muller’s record, which has stood for 40 years. Barcelona has four games remaining in the calendar year, and it would be completely shocking if Messi is unable to score twice in these games.
Ronaldo’s statistics have been impressive this year, but Messi’s individual performances are unquestionably superior.
While Madrid won La Liga, Barcelona won Copa del Rey, and neither Messi nor Ronaldo can point to any grand achievements on the international stage.
Ronaldo does not have a powerful enough argument relating to team success to overcome the gap in individual production between Messi and himself.
The Portuguese star had a fantastic season, but Messi has produced a campaign that will go down as one of the greatest ever, and Ronaldo will come up short in Ballon d’Or voting for yet another year.