Cristiano Ronaldo's triumph in the 2013 Ballon d'Or Award voting was well deserved, but is also certain to haunt the Portuguese star over the next year.
While the world-class striker was noticeably relieved and proud to earn the coveted individual honor at January's FIFA awards ceremony, per USA Today: "There are no words to describe this moment," the high praise will only bring about unreasonable pressure and expectations in 2014. In addition to his performances with Real Madrid down the stretch of the 2013-14 campaign, Ronaldo's play with Portugal at World Cup 2014 is sure to be over-scrutinized as a result of his victory over Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery.
While Portugal will be a dangerous squad in South America, they drew a brutal group and lack the supporting cast to knock out the planet's elite teams. Keep in mind that Portugal haven't finished better than fourth at the World Cup since 1966 and bowed out in the Round of 16 in South Africa four years ago.
Therefore, it's almost inevitable that when Portugal fall short in Brazil, Ronaldo will receive a bulk of the blame. Fair or unfair, the assessments will be much harsher given the No. 7's Player of the Year title.
But before Ronaldo fulfills his national team obligations, he'll take center stage in the La Liga title race and the Champions League knockout stage with Real Madrid. While his 32 goals and eight assists through 27 matches with Los Blancos are imposing, another Champions League failure or runner-up finish in La Liga will no doubt overshadow Ronaldo's individual brilliance, with the Ballon d'Or label only compounding the stress this time around.
Even worse, his shortcomings will be compared to Messi, who had won the award four consecutive times prior to 2013 and is also on track to win titles in 2014.
While there will always be pressure on players like Ronaldo and Messi to perform, often times fans forget that football is a team sport requiring 10 other men to execute at a high level as well.
Therefore, it's important to remember that Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or award doesn't give him an advantage on the pitch. Instead, you could argue that he's at a significant disadvantage as the reigning Player of the Year whose performance and production have no equal comparison.
While Ronaldo is surely up to the task and capable of delivering trophies for both club and country in 2014, his Ballon d'Or triumph will only add to the already immense pressure and irrational expectations.
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