Why Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup Hat Trick Will Secure Ballon D'Or

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 20, 2013

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - NOVEMBER 19:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal reacts during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off Second Leg match between Sweden and Portugal at Friends Arena on November 19, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images,)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a thrilling hat trick in Solna on Tuesday to gift his nation passage to the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, and in doing so, will finally claim the famous Ballon d'Or prize.

Portugal were subjected to a European playoff after finishing second to Russia in Qualifying Group F, and it was Ronaldo's goal in Lisbon that set Paulo Bento's side in motion.

He followed that up with a superlative triple four days later to ensure he'll be present in Brazil next summer, the same night FIFA extended the voting period for this year's Ballon d'Or.

The Mirror's Ed Malyon reports that the voting is now open until November 29, and anyone who has already cast their ballot may reconsider their choice and reform their top three selections.

Since the award's inception in 2010, Lionel Messi has won it three times in a row by a convincing margin. The Argentine garnered a whopping 47.88 percent of the votes in 2011—more than double CR7's tally of 21.60 percent.

That FIFA would extend the voting on the same evening Ronaldo scored a heroic hat trick cannot be coincidental, and it appears the institution wish for the player's efforts in Sweden to be fairly accounted for in the vote.

The Messi vs. Ronaldo debate is a tiresome subject, but one that truly comes to the fore at the end of each year when the Ballon d'Or fate is decided. They are the two finest players in world football, but splitting them has always been difficult.

Franck Ribery is an outside contender for the prize this year and Andres Iniesta finished third in 2012, but the decision is certain to come down to the two most prominent assets in the game once again.

The one criticism of Ronaldo—if there is one to be found—is that he rarely scores a goal at a crucial moment. Messi has been known to deliver on clutch occasions, but those moments have largely eluded CR7 on the biggest of stages...until now.

Firing Portugal to the World Cup almost single-handedly qualifies as showing up in the clutch, and his blistering display against Sweden will live long in the memory of anyone who took in the game.

Power, physicality, speed and purpose were constants in his game throughout, and after a first half of abject finishing, he found his feet and delivered three super strikes.

It's games like these that change the course of voting—much how Messi's five-goal display against Bayer Leverkusen will have—and FIFA are eager for it to be taken into account.

CR7's display in Solna will sway voters and land him his first ever Ballon d'Or, and he deserves it after an absolutely incredible 2013.