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Merciless Lionel Messi Won The 2015 Ballon D’or Award

Lionel messi and wife after winning the ballon d'or 2015


Merciless Lionel Messi Won The 2015 Ballon D’or Award

Lionel Messi did it again despite the late injury he picked up last year, with speculation that it might affect his vote for the 2015 Ballon d’or, received the award,  smiling with a wonderful speech in Zurich.

When Kaka scooped the 2007 Ballon d’Or amid his career zenith at AC Milan, the Brazil midfielder was the 10th winner of football’s most prestigious individual prize in as many years.

For a decade, the contest was wide open as modern greats such as Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldinho enjoyed 12 months to savour before the spotlight inevitably moved on.

The Ballon d’Or was not something to battle for or defend like a league title; it was a bonus – a warmly received tip of the hat for dazzling the game you cherished.

The men ranked second and third behind Kaka in 2007 – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – would change all that but, following Messi’s coronation as the world’s greatest player for a fifth time, their rivalry, undoubtedly the greatest individual tete-a-tete the sport has ever seen, coming to an end?

Ronaldo is a month away from his 31st birthday and the mazy dribbles, the lung-bursting surges into the area and the mesmerising stepovers are starting to gradually recede in number.

He may not play as a standard centre forward at Real Madrid but his movement is akin to one – complementing the more mobile Karim Benzema.

He is becoming more and more an out-and-out goalscorer and less of an all-round attacking threat.

In his defence, the statistics stack up for now – 54 goals in all competitions for Madrid in 2015 is testament to his ability to still cut it – but it is obvious that a player with a diminishing skill-set can only go one way.

The same cannot be said for Messi.

At 28, he has a couple more years on his side and, more importantly, has not had to modify his game. He plays in the same swashbuckling way he did when he made his Barca debut in 2004.

He remains the best player in the best team in the world and the cornerstone of a Barca side that could, quite conceivably, complete back-to-back La Liga and Champions League successes.

If that scenario does transpire then Neymar and Luis Suarez will be key contenders in 2016, not to mention the rapidly developing Paul Pogba, whose France side host the European Championship.

If it is to be an end to the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly then what a wonderful tussle it has been.

Ronaldo graduated from runner-up to first-time winner in 2008 ahead of Messi, who completed a climb from third to first the following year as he inspired Barcelona to an historic Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble.

By that stage, Ronaldo had swapped Manchester United for Real Madrid. The two greatest players in the world featuring on either side of club football’s most historically bitter rivalry leant a razor-sharp edge to their personal duel.

Both men have inspired loyalties beyond the tribal Barca-Madrid divide, with their undisputed brilliance coming in highly contrasting forms.

Messi, the diminutive artist with the velvet touch and beguiling close control – as likely to craft and finish one of Barcelona’s delightful passing moves as he is to sashay beyond a posse of defenders and impishly lob the goalkeeper.

lionel-messi-cristiano-ronaldo ballon d'or race

Ronaldo, the epitome of the 21st century athlete-footballer sprinkled liberally with the magic of yesterday’s heroes. An irresistible powerhouse on the field, scything through beleaguered defences and a rare constant among Madrid’s raft of Galacticos.

Pundits and fans arguing either player’s superiority can cling to the Ballon d’Or – the glitzy gala turned entrenched battle line.

Messi retained his 2009 gong for the next three years, with Andres Iniesta in 2010 the only time Ronaldo was not runner-up.

Ronaldo’s reaction to beating his most esteemed contemporary into second place over the past two years was telling – 2013’s tears followed by a guttural roar last time around. To him, this is more than a simple awards night.

Starring in such close proximity at Madrid and Barcelona and turning the Ballon d’Or into an annual bout of one v one means that, as an individual rivalry, the battle between Ronaldo and Messi is unmatched in football history.

Debates over whether Pele or Diego Maradona is the greatest player to have laced boots are complicated by them having played in different eras.

Perhaps the closest comparison to Messi and Ronaldo, certainly in terms of Ballon d’Or domination, comes from Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer.

Cruyff’s run of 1971, 1973 and 1974 wins was interrupted by the great German, who was runner-up in 1974 and 1975 before winning again the following year.



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