Cristiano Ronaldo is, without an iota of doubt, a talented player, hardworking, has the pace to waste and his desire to win every game he plays, is next to none—but he should know that in life you can’t get all your way.
If, and not when he wins this year’s FIFA-Ballon d’Or, he will probably have deserved it thanks mainly to his efforts in helping Real Madrid win the Spanish league title, the first in four years.
But it’s a big IF because he will be running against rivals who have either won more trophies or more personal achievements or both—among them and probably now fast becoming the favourite is Andrea Pirlo.
The veteran Juventus midfielder may not be most people’s favourite choice but is worthy of the revered award due to his performances for club and country. He is the probably the main reason the Azzurri are in the final of the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine and Poland.
At a time when everyone appears to be possessed with Ronaldo and Lionel Messi being the front-runners for the award, Pirlo’s outstanding performances since leaving AC Milan last season, have helped both Juve and Italy to vital victories.
He played a key role as the Turin giants won the Italian Serie A title, their first since returning from a brief a spell in Serie B in 2008, he reached Copa Italia final (but lost to Napoli), and he is on the brink of achieving something special with Italy.
If Italy can stop Spain from making football history in Sunday’s Euro final in Kiev, Pirlo must be at the heart of any strategy that Cesare Prandelli employs, and who would deny the 35-year midfield general old his place his history?
As for Messi, this season will be regarded as a failure since Barcelona won just one major silverware, if you can call the Spanish Kings Cup a major trophy, but at a personal level, he has been in a world of his own, scoring a staggering 73 goals and 29 assists for club and not to mention the 7 international (goals) for Argentina.
No player in the history of professional football has ever achieved this kind of feat, and since Ballon d’Or is an individual award it will be an absolute shock if he doesn’t get it.
Problem, Messi has probably become too popular and makes difficult things to do in a competitive football look so simple that his critics have turned into haters.
Honestly, if the Argentina captain, who regarded by many as probably the greatest player ever, was a newcomer to the scene and had this sort of season, he would be by far the obvious choice.
But anyway, before we get carried away by the returns of Messi, who is chasing a record fourth consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year, there is the small matter of “Super Mario Balotelli”.
Why always me?
You can love or hate him or both, but you can’t blame Balotelli when he says only Messi is a “slightly better” than him, or at least not after his performance for Italy against Germany in the semi-final on Thursday night on Warsaw.
Forget about his foolish antics, the Balotelli I watched play against pre-match favourites Germany deserves more credit just for his talent on the field and the ability to come up with something special from nowhere than the stick he gets for being Mario Balotelli
Because he’s such a special talent, who after guiding Manchester City to their first English league title in odd 47 years, he put the Germans on the sword with two top drawer goals, and if he repeats the same against Spain on Sunday, he should be among the contenders for FIFA-Balon d’Or.
Whereas the like of “Super Mario” and Pirlo and Spain are enjoying the headlines heading into Sunday’s final, Ronaldo, whose inflated desire to steal the limelight during Portugal’s penalty defeat to Spain on Wednesday backfired, needs to come down to earth.
As the star of the team, he should have taken the first penalty like Alonso did or the next after Portugal had also missed but chose to waited to take the fifth and possibly the match winner so that he would be hailed as the man who scored the penalty that took his country to the Euro final.
Sorry, but may be next time he will learn to put his team first before personal gratification as real team players like the Spanish do, which is why Spain is my favourite to beat Italy on Sunday.
Both teams are coming into the final on the back of two contrasting performances in their semi-final matches. While Italy put on possibly the best team performance at these Euros, Spain below par against Portugal.
But I expect the final to be a different. It will be hard for the Azzurri to perform as well as they did against Germany and the Spanish, seeking to become the first team to win the Euros, World Cup and again Euros back to back, know they can play much better and they will. Watch this space.