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Ronaldo: Better than Messi… in 2013
- Updated: 15 December, 2013
Cristiano Ronaldo smashed another record last Tuesday night as he became the first player to score nine goals in the group stages of the Champions League. What has become all too regular for Ronaldo is anything but regular by human standards.
Since 2008, when Ronaldo dominated the world stage in United red, the debate has rumbled on, Ronaldo or Messi? Well, in 2008 it was certainly Ronaldo, but the last four Ballon d’Ors have been won by the diminutive Argentine, and rightfully so.
I am firmly on the side of Messi being the greatest player ever to have played the beautiful game, but this year, things have been different. Messi has been injured, and Barcelona were brushed aside without Guardiola, meaning Messi wasn’t the pinnacle of European football. It has left a Ronaldo-shaped gap, which the aforementioned Portuguese has smashed through and taken over the reigns as world’s greatest.
Ronaldo has netted 68 goals in just 58 appearances for club and country this calendar year. Messi, 45 goals in 46 over the same period. Messi’s stats on their own are outstanding; Ronaldo’s are superhuman. Are people finally beginning to believe Ronaldo is better than Messi?
He is now joint top of the all-time scoring charts for the Portuguese national team. He has 26 goals in 19 games in the 2013-2014 season for Real Madrid, and we aren’t even into the New Year yet. Ronaldo could break the 73 goals Messi scored in one season in 2011-2012 if he continues on current form. But, even if he was to achieve such feats, would he be considered better than Messi for just more than one calendar year? I think the reason people will always see Ronaldo behind Messi is the trophies the two have comparably.
Despite Ronaldo breaking records almost endlessly at Madrid, he has only won one La Liga trophy and one Copa Del Rey since leaving United. That’s not a lot of trophies for someone considered to be in contention for the accolade of world’s best player. Ronaldo will end 2013 without a major trophy again, and incredibly, had he have stayed at United (who have won two Premier League titles and reached a Champions League final in his absence), both he and United could have won so much more.
Sir Alex Ferguson retiring will not have made a decision to come back to United one that will be near the top of his list anymore, and seeing United’s current form, he won’t feel like he is missing too much. Though I’m sure if he were to return, he would win more trophies in Manchester than Madrid over the next five years. He has openly stated in the past that Manchester was his second home and a return to Old Trafford would be a “dream.” Unfortunately for Manchester United fans, he has opted to spend the prime of his career in the Bernabeu.
Imagine Ronaldo was born five years earlier or even five years later. We’re unlikely to see another player like him in our lifetimes, and yet he is second best in his career to Messi. In 2013, however, he should win the Ballon d’Or. And while Messi and many other players say it’s the collective, not personal accolades that fuel them, the same can’t be said for Cristiano.
It is the reason he is the first on the training field and the last off it. He works harder than any other player to be as good as he is. Maybe it will take longer to appreciate Ronaldo than the time taken to recognize Messi over their entire careers. One thing for sure is that Ronaldo’s feats in 2013 will live long in the memory, and he should be appreciated now, with the award of the Ballon d’Or.Follow @icentrocampista