Ballon d’Or 2012: Messi’s right, he isn’t in competition with Ronaldo
Ballon d'Or 2012: Lionel Messi has ruthlessly demoted Cristiano Ronaldo from rival to bystander, writes Martin Caparrotta
In the end, it wasn’t even close. Lionel Messi once again brushed aside the other nominees to become the first player to win the Ballon d’Or four times. This year’s support acts were Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta.
After a year in which he dominated the goal-scoring charts with a record-breaking 91 strikes for club and country, the diminutive Barcelona star took 41.6 per cent of the vote. Ronaldo, who received 23.68 per cent, was forced to grin and bear it once again. Euro 2012 player of the tournament Iniesta got 10.91 per cent.
Messi has again scaled new heights and again is a worthy winner.
Speaking ahead of the glitzy gala in Zurich, Messi said that he does not consider himself to be “in competition” with Ronaldo. “I am competing to win trophies. In the end that is what it is all it is about, helping my team,” he said.
And he’s right. Ronaldo has again been ruthlessly demoted from rival to bystander by the modest Messi, the Portugal international’s 46 league goals and La Liga winner’s medal from last season not enough to earn him even a quarter of the vote.
It’s an impressive margin of victory for Messi but it should come as no surprise – and despite what Ronaldo’s loyal army of fans will claim, it is also fully merited.
Ronaldo enjoyed a sensational 2012 and of course deserves recognition for his tirelessly consistent form. But the 12 months in which Messi broke Gerd Mueller’s 40-year-old record for goals in a calendar year belong to the Argentine.
The Portugal captain’s supporters will argue that scoring the goals that fired Los Blancos to a 32nd La Liga crown was worthy of more acknowledgement than Messi’s input in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey triumph. But this is an individual title – and Messi’s solo achievements for 2012 eclipse Ronaldo’s without debate.
Ronaldo’s followers also often insist that Messi would not be so magical if he were to move to another team, away from the club where he learnt his trade and a city he has called home since he was 13 years old. But the forward’s recent performances for Argentina – he scored 12 goals in nine games in 2012 – could push the door closed on that wrangle, too.
This record-breaking fourth award shows that the argument is no longer centring on whether Messi is greater than Ronaldo – but whether Messi is the greatest of all time.
That particular discussion, however, can be saved until he has hung up his boots for good. Until then, we should stop comparing him to others and instead cherish the peak of a magical and exceptionally-gifted player’s career.
Ballon d’Or 2012: Selected votes (in order)
England captain Steven Gerrard: Messi, Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso
England manager Roy Hodgson: Messi, Ronaldo, Falcao
Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane: Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta
Spain captain Iker Casillas: Ramos, Ronaldo, Xavi
Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon: Pirlo, Messi, Ronaldo
Holland captain Wesley Sneijder: Van Persie, Messi, Ronaldo
Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque: Casillas, Xavi, Iniesta