25 Reasons Why Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo Must Win the Ballon d'Or

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2014

25 Reasons Why Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo Must Win the Ballon d'Or

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    Barring a massive shock, Cristiano Ronaldo will be named the winner of the Ballon d'Or for the second time in his career on Monday. 

    Just in case you weren't sure of the Portugal and Real Madrid player's credentials, we have set you up with this list of why he must win the coveted trophy handed to the best player in world football.

    Here are 25 reasons why Ronaldo must win the Ballon d'Or. 

He Put Portugal in the World Cup All by Himself

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    Ronaldo answered the critics who claimed he can't show up in big games back in November as he powered Portugal to victory over Sweden in the second leg of the UEFA World Cup qualifying play-off. 

    With his team ahead by a slim one-goal margin after the first leg, Ronaldo erupted for a brilliant hat-trick that booked the Portuguese team's plane ride to Brazil in June. 

    In the process of scoring his hat-trick, Ronaldo tied Pauleta for most goals scored by a Portugal player with 47.

    That record will undoubtedly be in the sole possession of Ronaldo very soon. 

Being Able to Play Nice with Gareth Bale

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    All summer long, as Real Madrid pursued the signature of Gareth Bale, everyone wondered how Ronaldo and Bale would work together. 

    While we did have to wait until October for a fully fit Bale to play alongside Ronaldo, the wait was worth it as the two magnificent talents have gotten along fine without many skirmishes. 

    Ronaldo is still the main superstar on the pitch for Los Blancos, but instead of turning into a primadonna about the Bale situation, he has embraced the change and turned the Real Madrid attack into a deadly one. 

Meteoric Rise as a Goalscorer

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    Just the other day, Ronaldo netted the 400th goal of his career against Celta Vigo. 

    To put the achievement into perspective, the Portuguese star is just 28 years old. 

    That means he has at least five more years to play at the top level of world football to score a ridiculous amount of goals. 

    If he continues on with his goalscoring antics even longer, the number of career goals scored by Ronaldo could reach close to 600 or even 700.

Ronaldo Has Gained More Respect

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    The days of Ronaldo being known for diving and silly antics on the pitch are close to being over as he has matured well with age. 

    The one striking moment of class from the Real Madrid sharpshooter in 2013 came at Old Trafford during round of 16 play in the UEFA Champions League. 

    On his return to Manchester, Ronaldo scored the match-winning goal—instead of celebrating in euphoric fashion, he opted not to celebrate at all against his former club.

    Whether or not we would have seen that from a younger Ronaldo is debatable. 

Astronomical Offensive Statistics

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    During his astonishing 2013, Ronaldo put together some statistics that no one else on the planet, except possibly Lionel Messi, could put up.

    According to WhoScored, Ronaldo averages 7.6 shots per game this season—yes, that is per game, not in a span of three of four games. 

    That number is up more than half of a percentage point from his average of 6.9 shots per game during the 2012-13 campaign. 

    In his current campaign with Los Blancos, Ronaldo is also averaging 1.5 key passes, which means he is involved in every facet of his team's attack. 

He Fought the Law...and He Won

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    FIFA president Sepp Blatter had no idea what was coming his way after he made a few choice remarks about Ronaldo back in October. 

    Instead of spending time at a hairdresser gossiping about Blatter's comments, Ronaldo and the Real Madrid brass lambasted Blatter and received a swift apology from the outspoken head of the sport's governing body. 

    Blatter took to Twitter to take back his statements about the Portuguese playmaker, who took on the head of FIFA and surprisingly came out on top. 

    A public apology from Blatter rarely happens, especially one to a specific player, which is a quality of this drama that makes it even more intriguing. 

Cristiano Is a More Complete Player Now

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    Back in 2008, when he captured his first Ballon d'Or, Ronaldo was famous for his free-kick ability and driving runs down the wings. 

    Now, as he closes in on his second award, he is known as a player who can basically do anything that is asked of him. 

    These days, Ronaldo can be seen scoring with either foot and his head as well in different scenarios such as free-kicks and long marauding runs through the center of the pitch. 

    There is no doubt that he was a world-class player in 2008, but Ronaldo has taken his play to a different level in the five years since winning his first Ballon d'Or. 

Individual Champions League Dominance

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    Real Madrid did not win the Champions League—or any trophy to be precise—in 2013, but Ronaldo did make his mark on the top club competition in the world. 

    Ronaldo scored seven goals in the knockout round of the 2012-13 edition of the tournament, where Los Blancos fell in the semi-finals to Borussia Dortmund

    In group play in 2013, Ronaldo scored a whopping nine goals in five matches, which totals to 16 goals in one calendar year against some of the best opposition the world can offer. 

He Broke Down Barriers at Real Madrid

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    Ronaldo is a player who has achieved many things, but none may mean more to him than earning the captaincy of Real Madrid for the first time. 

    In the first match of 2013 for Los Blancos, Ronaldo was handed the captain's armband against Real Sociedad

    In the match, Ronaldo did what every captain should do—he scored two goals to help a 10-man Real Madrid win, 4-3. 

    A few weeks later, in a Copa del Rey match against Barcelona, Ronaldo became the first non-Spanish player to captain Real Madrid in the historic El Clasico in 60 years. 

Ronaldo Can Score Anywhere

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    As we all know, scoring is not a talent that Ronaldo saves just for the spectators at the Bernabeu.

    He also delivers on the numerous road trips that Los Blancos venture out on every season. 

    Against Valencia in December, Ronaldo scored his 71st away goal for Real Madrid to tie Alfredo di Stefano on the team's away goal leaderboard. 

    As 2014 begins, Ronaldo is just 16 goals away from tying the legendary Raul in the road goals department. 

Cristiano Is a Giver

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    Here is a story that will make you root for Ronaldo even more, as if you needed another reason. 

    Ronaldo fulfilled the dream of a young cancer patient by setting him up in a VIP box for the match against Celta Vigo on Monday, where the superstar scored his 400th goal. 

    B/R's Mark Patterson has more on the heartwarming story here

Ronaldo Is Still the Best Free-Kick Taker in the World

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    As you can see from this video of Ronaldo's free-kick goal against Chelsea at the International Champions Cup preseason tournament this summer, he still takes free-kicks with the greatest of ease. 

    Of his more than 400 goals scored at every level of the game, Ronaldo has scored 38 from direct free-kicks, which equates to just under 10 percent of his career goal total. 

He Took Advantage of Being the Only Player in the World Spotlight

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    2013 also presented a challenge to Ronaldo to see if he could handle the spotlight of the world with Lionel Messi out for a while due to injuries. 

    Ronaldo answered that call in stellar fashion as he had one of the best goalscoring seasons in the history of the game. 

    If he continues the same form from 2013 into 2014, he could beat out a healthy Messi fair and square for next year's Ballon d'Or. 

Versatility on the Pitch

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    Few players on the planet can shift into numerous positions and deliver a strong performance at each of them. 

    Ronaldo is one of the select group of footballers who can adjust to his surroundings on the fly and find comfort at whatever position he lands in the starting 11. 

    He has mainly been used as a forward on the left side of a 4-3-3, but he can also drop further back into the midfield on the left wing and play as a straight-up forward. 

    While he has only played in those three main positions, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that a player of his ability could play on the right or in the center of midfield if called upon as well.

Ronaldo Showed Extreme Discipline on the Pitch

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    Since Ronaldo does bring with him some extra simulation baggage to the pitch, given his past, it is surprising to state that he was booked just 15 times in 2013.

    Of the 15 bookings, only one was a red, which came in the 114th minute of the Copa del Rey Final that was lost by Real Madrid, 2-1, to Atletico Madrid

    By staying out of trouble, Ronaldo was able to remain on the pitch and wreak havoc against opposing defenses.

    Had he picked up a few silly yellow cards that do build up eventually to suspensions, Ronaldo may have not been able to keep up the spectacular form he was in because of breaks in play. 

He Is the Most Popular Player in Eyes of the Fans

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    According to this report from J.J. Garcia-Ochoa of Marca back in March, Ronaldo is a money-making machine for Real Madrid. 

    That also means that he has become one of the most popular players among the fans of the beautiful game. 

    While most fans would argue that Messi is more popular, Ronaldo has a more recognizable personal brand and is the first name to come out of the mouths of casual bypassers of the sport. 

    His popularity will only continue to rise as his play gets better, and if he plays well at the World Cup this summer, his image will grow larger than it already is. 

Ronaldo Remained Loyal

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    In other marquee sports across the globe, if a superstar is handed a way out of a team that won zero titles while he broke record after record, that player may have opted for a change of scenery.

    Despite all the temptation to move elsewhere, Ronaldo remained at the Bernabeu to continue his greatness at Real Madrid. 

    Based on what we have heard in the press recently, Ronaldo was begged by former teammate Rio Ferdinand to return to the red half of Manchester, according to the Mirror. 

    Given his silenced celebration at Old Trafford, Ronaldo certainly still has emotional ties to Manchester, but that was not enough to drag him away from Madrid this summer. 

Without Ronaldo, Madrid Would Be in Crisis Mode

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    Take a second to imagine what would have happened at Real Madrid had Ronaldo been taken away from the lineup for a long span of time as Messi has been on occasion. 

    Now that you have thoughts of a disappointing Madrid side that would have been eliminated early on in the knockout phase of the Champions League, it is right to say that Ronaldo kept Los Blancos relevant for most of the 2012-13 season.

    With less than stellar defending and a disappointing collection of other goalscorers on the team, Ronaldo managed to pull Los Blancos as far as he could. 

    Had Ronaldo not been on the pitch, Jose Mourinho would have had a more dramatic ending at the Bernabeu that would not have seen him last the entire 2012-13 season. 

59 Goals for Real Madrid

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    Speaking of his importance to Real Madrid, Ronaldo scored 59 times for Los Blancos in 2013. 

    The 59 goals added to the growing total of La Liga goals that the Portuguese star has scored, a number that now stands at 166 after scoring twice against Celta Vigo on Monday. 

10 Goals for Portugal

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    On top of his record year at club level, Ronaldo had his best season on the international stage as well. 

    The 10 goals that Ronaldo scored for the Portuguese national team came in five different games.

    He scored two hat-tricks against Sweden and Northern Ireland, while scoring once against Ecuador, Croatia and the Netherlands in friendly matches. Ronaldo also scored a single goal in the first leg of the play-off against Sweden. 

    Although he didn't score in other crucial games, Ronaldo more than made up for those matches with four goals when Portugal's World Cup berth was at stake. 

1.17 Goals Per Game

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    Ronaldo appeared on a football pitch 59 times in 2013 and his goals per game average equated to 1.17. 

    That means that he scored well over a goal per game, a number that seems impossible to the average fan. 

    However, Ronaldo is as close to superhuman as it gets in today's game, which would explain an out-of-this world statistic. 

21 Multi-Goal Games

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    Yes, you read that right—Ronaldo scored two goals or more on 21 separate occasions this season in all competitions at all levels. 

    Four of those 21 games were in the first month of 2013 as he scored hat-tricks against Celta Vigo on January 9 and vs. Getafe on January 27. He also netted a brace in matches against Valencia and Real Sociedad.

    From August on, Ronaldo scored two or more goals in 11 matches with his final masterpiece of 2013 coming against Sweden on the fateful day that clinched Portugal's spot in Brazil. 

8 Hat-Tricks

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    Most prolific goalscorers are lucky to score a few hat-tricks over the course of 12 months, but Ronaldo scored three goals on eight occasions across all platforms in 2013. 

    Ronaldo had two hat-tricks against Sevilla that came on February 9 and October 30. The other victims of his brilliance were Real Sociedad, Getafe, Celta Vigo, Galatasaray, Northern Ireland and, of course, Sweden. 

14 Assists

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    As if the goal statistics weren't enough for you, Ronaldo also played his part in 14 goals on the assisting end. 

    Unlike his goalscoring tear, Ronaldo only had one game in which he recorded more than one assist, in the match against Malaga on May 8 where he recorded two in a 6-2 Real Madrid win. 

He Has to Win Something, Right?

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    For the last four years, Ronaldo has been the bridesmaid to Messi, but that is about to change. 

    It is a shame that he did not win a single trophy with Real Madrid in 2013, but the greatest individual achievement in the game awaits him on Monday—and no one is more deserving this year than Ronaldo.