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Odegbami: Ballon d’Or – Trophy Or Talent?

Odegbami: Ballon d’Or – Trophy Or Talent?

Cristiano Ronaldo has won his fourth Ballon d’Or award for the world’s player of the year 2016. 

Very few will doubt that he deserves the award particularly this year. Why?

In 2016, he led Portugal to win their first European Nations Cup title and Real Madrid to their European Champions League and La Liga titles.

What stands out even as Ronaldo won all these trophies this year is that everyone can also notice that he has lost a little of the sharpness, agility and speed that made him the most difficult forward to stop only two or three years ago, even though he has not lost his nose for goals and finishing power in front of goal. Age, undoubtedly, has started to take its toll, slowly and inevitably blunting his edge. 

It is important to note that Ronaldo did not even play in the final match that gave Portugal the Euro 2016 trophy, and that in the final match of the 2016 Champions Club league against Atletico Madrid, for 120 minutes that the match lasted, he was like a passenger in a taxi on the field, although when he was called up to deliver during the shoot out that gave Real Madrid the trophy he delivered as a true leader. Again, that is the hallmark of a champion – winning even when you play poorly. 

Yet, even as twilight beckons in the distance in his incredible career, it is universally agreed that he deserves the coveted crown, in 2016. Why? Apart from his unassailable goal haul in all competitions during the period, his teams won trophies despite his absence in one of the finals, and his less than stellar performance in another. 

What this clearly means is that to win trophies, cohesive team effort and  an individual exceptional performance must go together!

It is, in my humble opinion, for that simple reason that Lionel Messi was considered less deserving of the 2016 Ballon d’Or award than Ronaldo, even though as an individual he maintained his unsurpassed brilliance, consistency and artistry on the field of play but had no trophies to show. 

Comparing the two players year after year since 2007, and selecting who should be the world’s player of the year between them has become an annual ritual of some sort decided by slim considerations. This year it is about the trophies won ahead of the talent they exhibited. 

 Comparing Ronaldo and Messi 

The two players have a lot in common, yet they are also very different in a lot of other ways. 

Ronaldo is a training machine, a pure athlete physically developing his strength, power, speed, endurance, sharpness and technique to hone his talent and sustain his high level performance.  

Messi is a pure artistic genius that is capable of effortlessly doing just about anything with the ball at his feet. He is so good that only his failure to lead Argentina to a World Cup victory is the reason the world has held back the crowning acknowledgment that no human in history has been as good. 

It is only the World Cup trophy that stands in the way of that pronouncement! 

It is clear, as the case of Ronaldo this year has confirmed, that you do not have to be the best to be the winner of the Ballon d’Or! Just be great and be a part of the winning team!Ronaldo was not the best Real Madrid player along the way to winning the Champions league.

That honour should probably go to Gareth Bale. Ronaldo was also not the best player in the Portugal team  that won the European Nations Cup.  He did not even play in the final match and was not missed. That honour should go to some other player in the team. But he was the only great player in both trophy-winning teams! That is the clincher!

Back To The 2016 Ballon d’Or.

The past decade has been unique in the history of football because of the rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. 

The difference between them is that Ronaldo is a football technician whilst Messi is a football artist. 

Whereas Messi lingers in the periphery of being acknowledged as the greatest player in the history of the game as a result of his artistry, the same cannot be said of Ronaldo, even if they have almost equally shared the awards of world’s player of the year and deservedly so between them these past 9 years!

Ronaldo and Messi have a lot in common. The first is their goal scoring instincts and ability. Given half a chance they will both, more often than not, bury the ball behind a goalkeeper. They have that intrinsic ability to put the ball away, and their goal scoring tallies, year after year, are clear evidence how prolific they have been.

Both of them can run at defenders and go past in a breeze. 

Both are dead ball experts. 

Both are leaders in their respective teams, without whom the teams play differently and with a lot more difficulty. 

Both play in two of the best teams in the world, along side some of the world’s best players to compliment them. 

Both have won all the highest club trophies and continental national trophies, but neither has won the World Cup for their respective countries. 

Now, Here Are Their  Differences.

Ronaldo is a showman, off an on the field. 

Messi is the direct opposite, almost boringly oblivious to all the glitz and glamour around football. 

Ronaldo has honed his ability through punishing hard work. Messi is naturally  gifted and does not work as hard to play almost effortlessly. 

Ronaldo is right footed and enjoys playing from the left side of attack. In the past year he has been pushed to play further upfront as a central striker in Real Madrid. 

Messi is a left footed player that plays freely from the midfield, but mostly down the right flank. 

Ronaldo is one of the deadliest headers of the ball in the world. 

Messi, although effective also with the head, is too much on the diminutive side to be considered deadly in that department. 

Ronaldo can dribble well with the ball but he is surely not in the same league as Messi. This is Messi’s greatest weapon. 

Ronaldo is a natural hunter for goals, probably the best finisher from within the penalty box, always lurking, always looking for open spaces to run into to finish off passes and crosses with a full array of weapons at his disposal – left foot, right foot, head, volleys, half volleys, near post, far post, and so on. Just about any part of his body is a goal scoring weapon. He does not create as many goals for others as he scores himself. 

Messi is a creative genius, always inventing moves and breaking down defenses with his creative passes, dribbles, lobs, feints, and so on. He scores as many goals as he creates for others in his team. 

One sight the world would surely yearn to see one day (and that is never likely to happen) is that of  Ronaldo and Messi  playing in the same team! 

That would be awesome but not many people think it would be a great combination. I do. 

My take is that if Messi can play along side Neymar and Suarez in one team, and Ronaldo can play along side Gareth and Benzema in one team, it cannot be far fetched to think that the two greatest football players of this era can play together. What a front line that would be!

Meanwhile, let me join the rest of the world in saluting Cristiano Ronaldo, the winner of the Ballon d’Or for 2016. 

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • Olumide Adeniyi 2 years ago

    Good morning Mr. Odegbami. Your analysis was quite spot on the similarities and differences between these great players. I also agree with you that winning trophies is an integral part and prerequisite to landing that individual honour. Unfortunately, you were denied that great honour in 1980, when your two goals in the final gave us our maiden triumph in the AFCON. However, I must state clearly that it’s not always right to conclude that because Ronaldo had a tame performance in the champions league and EURO final but his all round contribution which of course includes goals that took Portugal and Real Madrid to those respective finals that made the difference. Messi had done enough by almost single handedly taking Argentina to the 2014 world cup final to win the best player for the tournament. Meanwhile, thanks for your write up. I always look forward to reading it alongside Mumini Alao’s. All other football news comes slightly late as I would have gotten enough updates from foreign online media. God bless you.

  • The world knows you are a fan of Barca. You have just successfully  punched holes into  the trophy won by Ronaldo in a subtle way. I am not taken in by this. Ronaldo for the season just past is far far better than Messi. Infact most pundits including myself believed that Suarez should be in the best 3 instead of Messi. On the fifa ranking, Griessman should be second instead of Messi. Messi was not himself last season because he was involved in the tax fraud matter in Spain. He even retired from the National team!  Ronaldo was involved in all trophys. See the way he even handled the tax matter against him recently?  Ronaldo is a showman but he does not allow that to make him stop warking. Do you know that he does not have a single tattoo on him? Unlike Messi who has all sorts of tattoo on him extending to the legs! Ronaldo is a worthy winner. No watering down here. If not that you are a Barca fan, you wont have watered  down Ronaldo win. He is talented  and worthy of all the trophies.