Ronaldo won the Ballon D’Or but Messi deserved it!

Published: January 17, 2014
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Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world by a long long way. PHOTO: Reuters

Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world by a long long way. PHOTO: Reuters Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world by a long long way. PHOTO: Reuters Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world by a long long way. PHOTO: Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo won the fourth 2013 FIFA Ballon D’Or and he rightly deserved it. The types of performances he showed last year have been, without a doubt, extraordinary.

The fact that in terms of performance statistics, he outscored the other two contenders to top the charts makes his case very strong. If he had failed this time, the credibility of Ballon D’Or would have been seriously questioned.

In the end, it was a good result for football in general.

However, the result doesn’t reflect accurately on who the best footballer in the world is. People have made all sorts of arguments in favour of each of the three nominees.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a staggering number of goals.

Franck Ribery was an integral part of a team that won every competition during the year.

Lionel Messi had another stellar season that looks slightly less worthy only because we compare his numbers for the year to the unbelievable standards he has set for himself in the past.

If we talk about the ‘true’ best player in the world, then statistics of goals and assists alone or being an integral part of an all-conquering team can’t be taken as a lone criterion. In fact, these are just two of the things that should contribute to the criteria which, in addition, consist of factors such as impact on the team, the ability to influence a game and turn it single-handedly on its head. When all these elements are considered, Messi still appears to be the number one player in the world, not to mention having won four Ballon D’Ors in a row.

Lionel Messi

Ronaldo and Ribery are both great players and supreme professionals. Ronaldo won many games for Real Madrid and so did Ribery. But none of them are as good at influencing a game as Messi is.

Lets recall the match from last season that took place at the San Siro against AC Milan, when Barcelona lost by 0-2 in the first leg, of the round of 16, in the Champions League. But Barca fought back in Camp Nou in the return leg to overturn a deficit; that had never been done in history before.

Messi rose to the occasion in unimaginable fashion and scored two splendid goals early in the game through shear individual brilliance. Such was his performance that it left everybody in awe and disbelief.

In the next round, Barça was again in trouble against Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Messi, despite being injured, got off the bench and, in a short cameo, turned the game in Barça’s favour.

And if statistics are all that important, then what about the 29 goals scored in 21 consecutive games in La Liga against every single opponent? Is that really a feat easy to achieve?

Franck Ribery

The case of Ribery for the Ballon D’Or was even weaker. Bayern Munich conquered everything but the success. This was the result of a synergistic team that they have successfully developed rather than the result of a player’s individual brilliance. Ribery is a great player but both Ronaldo and Messi are miles ahead of him.

Ballon D’Or is an individual award and hence should be awarded on individual brilliance, no matter how well the team performed. If winning something is the criterion, then there is no need to look for outstanding players in any other club – players from the wining sides of La Liga, the Premier League, Bundes Liga and the Champions League should all qualify for football’s most prestigious individual awards.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Some analysts say that Ronaldo is a more absolute player because he can use both feet, can score from free kicks and from headers, and is extremely quick and strong. Very true!

But just because Messi scores fewer goals from his other parts of the body, doesn’t mean his genius can be overtaken. This argument is the same as saying that an artist, who can draw well using either of his hands or his feet, claims he is better than Pablo Picasso. Messi is a genius and not a single player can produce the same magic as he does when the ball sticks to his feet like a magnet.

His goal against Athletic Bilbao last year was majestic and proved how well he handled the ball.

Ronaldo may produce a moment of similar genius sometimes, but Messi has been doing it week after week for many years. The more you see him do it, the more you are convinced of his ability, vision, talent and composure to execute outrageous skills that can leave you in utter disbelief.

Messi has something extraordinary that has earned him a place in the debate of world’s greatest player. Ronaldo has won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards now but it is still not likely that the argument of him being ‘the greatest player of all time’ will start floating in the football world. Ronaldo scores an amazing number of goals but looking at his playing style for Real Madrid, most of the time he heads in from long balls and free kicks or taps-in Karim Benzema’s and Mesut Ozil’s fine crosses.

Barca’s midfield engine works in a very different way and whenever Messi scores, it’s either his individual brilliance or the outcome of an outrageous link up with his team mates – team goals that you don’t see coming from any other team in the world, as often.

He scores goals and creates them too.

Sometimes without scoring a goal or setting it up, he leaves you in disbelief with a magical defence splitting pass that not even some of the best midfielders in the world could pull off.

Ronaldo won the award but it was a very closely fought contest.

Unlike the previous three occasions, Messi has won approximately twice the points than his counter. If Messi was not injured during the close of the season and then again for the most part of the new season, there is a significant chance we may have seen Messi picking up his fifth successive award this week.

Ronaldo could have lost it to Ribery, had they not extended the voting period after his heroics for Portugal against Sweden.

People say Ronaldo took Portugal to the World cup but they forget that Messi did the same, firing Argentina into the World cup with outstanding performances requiring no extra qualifying play off.

Ronaldo winning the Ballon D’Or is still praised because it’s good news for football. The decision is going to fuel up the rivalry of these two football maestros further, bringing us many more magical moments. It will also extinguish the unjust campaigning and media war disputes over the best player award such as Sepp Blatter’s ‘harmless’ jokes about Ronaldo.

But putting everything aside, Messi is undisputedly the best player in the world, by a long long way!

Rizwan Mumtaz

Rizwan Mumtaz

A PhD student currently based in Europe. A social worker affiliated with several international youth organization. Founder of Nojawan Pakistan, a volunteer youth organization aiming to help education of the unprivileged Govt schools in Hazara Division. He tweets @RizwanMumtaz (twitter.com/RizwanMumtaz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.