For the fourth year running the Ballon d’Or winner is going to come from the Spanish La Liga, and for the third year in a row, we may have the same winner for the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Having won both the Ballon d’Or and the Fifa Player of the Year awards in 2009, Lionel Messi won the inaugural 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or after (France Football’s Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award) were merged. He went on to keep it the following year.
The Barcelona and Argentina striker is the favourite to win it again, but this time faces stronger challenge from his main nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo, who, if he wins himself, would be a deserved winner.
Having had to endure the weight of living in the shadow of Messi for the past three seasons, 2012 is probably Ronaldo’s best chance to beat his arch-rival and reclaim his place at the top.
The Real Madrid and Portuguese forward lost his one-time status as the world’s best player in 2009 and has not looked like winning it back since as Messi starred in a Barcelona side that dominated both Spain and Europe between 2009 and 2011.
But this year a combination of success for the former Manchester United winger and the relative lack of it for Messi gives Ronaldo hope of once winning his first FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo was bought for £80 million (a world-record fee) to bring the good times back to the Santiago Bernabeu; unfortunately, he arrived at a point when Barca, led by Pep Guardiola, were starting their domination.
He and Jose Mourinho, who arrived a year after his fellow Portuguese, had to wait three years later things to finally fall into place.
Ronaldo was undoubtedly the star for Real Madrid last season as they won the first La Liga title in four seasons with 100 points, nine more than Barca.
The ex-Sporting Lisbon starlet scored a phenomenal 46 goals; however, his achievement was diluted by the fact that Messi scored 50 for Barcelona.
In Europe, Ronaldo scored 10 goals in 10 Champions League games as Real were eliminated in the semifinals on penalties by Bayern, whose striker Mario Gomez finished the season with two more goals than the Real star—but there was Messi once again.
The diminutive No. 10, who goes into this weekend’s league match against Athletic Bilbao needing three goals to break the 40-year old record of 85 goals scored in a calendar year, bagged 14 European goals to end up as the competition top scorer for the third season in a row.
Both Real and Barcelona reached the semifinals of the Champions League, Real won La Liga, while Barca won juts the Cope de Rey and Spanish Super Cup, but his individual performances and the incredible amount of goals has scored in this calendar year, make him a favourite.
CR7 may have won the more significant silverware in 2012, but he will have to pull out all the stops over the next couple of weeks before the end of the year if he is to stop Messi from becoming the first man to win the award four years in a row.
Barcelona host Athletic on Saturday with Messi on 82 goals so far in 2012, just three short of Mueller’s record tally set in 1972 for Bayern Munich and West Germany. This season, Messi has scored 19 league goals, seven more than Ronaldo.