Ballon d’Or 2016: A Case for Cristiano Ronaldo

Barring a miraculous performance from a player other than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half of the 2015/16 season, the 2016 Ballon d’Or is set to be a battle between the Argentine and the Portuguese.

For most people, Messi is the overwhelming favourite to land his unprecedented fifth Ballon d’Or come January 2016, as he played one of the most remarkable seasons of his illustrious career and helped Barcelona win a treble of the Spanish league title, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. He was also the best player on the Argentina national team and captained them to the final of the Copa America held in Chile earlier this summer.

However, for all of Messi’s brilliance, Ronaldo didn’t have a bad year either. And counting him out for a third consecutive Ballon d’Or will be a mistake.

Ronaldo ended his league season with a sensational haul of 48 league goals – a tally that won him the European Golden Shoe for being the top goalscorer in any European league over the course of the 2015/16 season. Not just scoring, he was equally effective at setting up chances for his team-mates and ended up with an assist tally of 16 in the league alone.

In the Champions League, the Portuguese marksman began from where he left off in the 2014/15 season and finished as joint top scorer in the elite European competition, tied with Messi and Neymar.

It is worth noting that Ronaldo played a game fewer than his Barcelona rivals, who contested the final against Juventus in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in June.

Ronaldo also ended up with four assists in the Champions League, only one fewer than the tournament’s leading assist maker Andres Iniesta. The 30-year-old’s performance for Real Madrid over the course of last season gives a clear indication of his centrality to their fortunes.

The former Manchester United player has played only two games for the Portugal national team this year. The first of which was a 2-1 win over Serbia in a 2016 European Championship qualifier.

The second match was against Armenia in another 2016 Euro qualifier. And the relative minnows took a lead in the 14th minute courtesy of a strike from Marcos Pinheiro Pizzelli, but then Ronaldo took the matters into his own hands and notched up a quick-fire hat-trick to put the match beyond Armenia’s reach. Sargis Hovsepyan’s side scored again in the 72nd minute, but Ronaldo had done enough to secure his team a valuable three points as they bid to qualify for France 2016.

It cannot be denied that Ronaldo’s individual brilliance couldn’t inspire Los Blancos to any major trophies last season, but it is also undeniable that without his heroics they would have struggled to give Barcelona the scare that they gave and the destination of the league title would have been decided far earlier than the eventual 37th week that it went until. Real Madrid also wouldn’t have reached the semi-final of the Champions League without his goals and assists.

Even then, isn’t Ballon d’Or an individual honour and didn’t Ronaldo have one of the best seasons of his career? There is no reason why he shouldn’t be a worthy contender for the top individual honour in the coming year.

  • Pingback: Who will win the FIFA Ballon D'Or 2016? | Destination Soccer()

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