The best player in the world in 2014 will be crowned as the Ballon d’Or winner on 12th January in Zurich. As the debate heats up around the world, here in sports-nova we take a look at the three nominees and analyze the positives and negatives of their year.
- Ronaldo helped Real Madrid win La Decima, the much talked about tenth champions league crown while breaking the single season scoring record with an unprecedented 17 goals.
- Apart fom the UCL, he maintained his stunning scoring record in La Liga, and despite Real Madrid finishing third, he claimed Pichichi and became joint European top scorer with Luis Suarez.
- After winning Champions league, he continued his superb run with Real Madrid winning Uefa Super Cup and Fifa club wirld cup, while being crowned best and second best player in those tournaments respectively.
- He also won UEFA Best Player in Europe 2014, comfortably beating Ballon D’or rival Neuer, while Messi didn’t make it to the final three.
- Despite being less glamorous, he bagged BBC Overseas Sports Personality award, only the fourth footballer to be crowned after fellow countryman Eusebio, and Brazilian legends Pele and Ronaldo.
- Last, but not the least, he started 2014-15 season just where he left off the earlier one, and leads European scoring chart with an astonishing 25 goals with only 14 matches under his belt.
- Despite worldwide concerns of a nagging knee injury suffered during the end of 2013-2014 season, Ronaldo declared himself fit for World cup, despite not playing the friendlies. His performance at World Cup was completely disappointing as he scored just once in three games while Portugal crashed out from the group stages of the tournament.
- His ever increasing self-belief which drives him to perform at the highest level, but at the same time people has criticized him for lack of humbleness. An award that has almost lost its significance and come down to a popularity award, these non-football related facts are sadly important.
- A stellar world cup campaign, that has seen him emerge with the golden ball, although much to the disagreement of various pundits. Whether he was worthy winner of golden ball or not, is a different issue, but no one can deny that his presence and brilliance helped Argentina reach the final.
- Despite a trophyless season at club level, Messi has bagged two important scoring records this year. He surpassed Telmo Zarra to become all time highest scorer in the La Liga and then overcame Raul to become highest ever scorer in UCL. Impressive.
- At club level, Messi had trophyless season, his first since 2007-08. Although Ronaldo won the award last year after a trophyless season with Real Madrid, the portugese had much better stats than the argentine possesses this year.
- Despite winning a golden ball, many would argue Messi’s performance dipped after group satges and he failed to score a single goal in the knock-out rounds.
- Opinions on the little maestro vary from “the best player in the world” to “he is past his best days”. Although we don’t believe the latter, reports inside Barca says Messi is not happy and it’s affecting his game. Safe to say, despite being one of the top players in the world, he has lost the aura of invincibility that once surrounded him.
- Neuer won the 2014 FIFA world cup with Germany while keeping four clean sheets, including those again fellow Ballon D’or rival Messi’s Argentina and Ronaldo’s Portugal. He was deservedly awarded golden gloves for being the best keeper of the tournament.
- Neuer won 2013-14 German Bundesliga and cup with Bayern Munich, while reaching the semi finals of UCL, only to be eliminated by eventual champions Real Madrid.
- Neuer has revolutionized the idea of goal keeping by successfully being a sweeper keeper, blocking through balls of the opponent teams.
- No goalkeeper has ever won Ballon D’or since the legendary Lev Yashin in 1963. He is the only goalkeeper winner in the history of the award. Given the history, it’s really tough for Neuer to beat the likes of Ronaldo and Messi to the award.
- In both club and country level, Neuer had very strong teams in Germany and Bayern. Many complains that he is not tested enough, especially in the weak Bundesliga.
Since 2006-07 season, the top scorer in UEFA Champions League emerged as the Ballon D’or winner. A trend started by the fiery Brazilian Kaka, has continued since and we believe it will continue this year too. With all due respect to Messi and Neuer, it’s Ronaldo’s award to lose.
We predict the stylish Portuguese as the comfortable winner with Neuer finishing second and Messi third.