Lionel Messi wins the 2015 Ballon d’Or
Tonight, Lionel Messi capped off a fantastic year by lifting his 5th Ballon d’Or trophy, affirming his status as the world’s best player over the last 12 months. This extends the record he already held for most Ballon d’Or triumphs, with no other player having won the prestigious award more than 3 times.
The exceptional Argentine will be delighted to get his hands on the main trophy again as his previous run of 4 consecutive Ballon d’Or wins had been halted by his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who lifted the trophy on the next 2 occasions.
Messi was heavy favourite to win the award this time though after playing an integral part in Barcelona’s terrific treble triumph, and the final result proved to reflect this:
- Messi – 41.33%
- Ronaldo – 27.76%
- Neymar – 7.86%
Ronaldo holds onto 2nd place ahead of newcomer Neymar Jr, who made his first appearance in the top 3 Ballon d’Or nominations. Many thought Neymar would come closer to breaking into that top 2, especially considering Messi’s result last year, where he beat Manuel Neuer to 2nd place by a mere 0.04%!
Most Ballon d’Or Wins*
|Player||Ballon d’Or Wins|
|Marco van Basten||3|
*This data refers to the current FIFA Ballon d’Or awarded to the world’s best player, and the pre-2010 Ballon d’Or which was awarded to the best player in Europe. It should also be noted that Ronaldo de Lima and Zinedine Zidane won the FIFA World Player of the Year award (which ran from 1991 to 2009) 3 times.
The year 2015 turned out to be one of the most decorated of Lionel Messi’s glittering career, as he lifted no less than 5 trophies; La Liga, the Champions League, the Copa Del Rey, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup. The only mishap came in the Spanish Super Cup in which Barcelona were ultimately overcome by Athletic Bilbao.
Leo also made the final of the Copa America with his national team Argentina, who only succumbed to winners Chile after a penalty shootout.
In terms of goals, 2015 doesn’t actually rank as one of Messi’s best, recording a goalscoring ratio of 0.85 for club and country; his lowest since 2011. For Barcelona only, he managed 0.91 goals per game, which was his lowest for a calendar year since 2009.
Messi’s final 2015 calendar year stats
However, it was the nature and importance of his goals that weighed much more heavily in 2015. For example, in what was arguably Barcelona’s biggest test of the year against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, he practically won the tie with 2 utterly majestic goals; the 2nd of which he made one of the world’s best centre backs (Boateng) and the world’s best goalkeeper (Neuer) look completely helpless as he turned one inside-out and effortlessly lobbed the other with his wrong foot.
Further to this, it was Messi who scored the goal that clinched the La Liga title at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderón, a notoriously difficult place to get a result.
And finally, the little magician scored one of the best goals of his career in the Copa Del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao when he picked the ball up on the half way line, and proceeded to dribble his way through a crowd of players before firing the ball home. This goal was in the top 3 nominations tonight for the FIFA Puskás Award, given for the most beautiful goal of the year; however it was ultimately beaten by the superb goal scored by Brazilian, Wendell Lira.
So you see you have to look past the statistics alone to truly appreciate Lionel Messi, as his outrageous goalscoring tends to overshadow the other aspects of his game, which are just as important. To explain further, Andres Iniesta doesn’t score many goals, but no-one would question his status as a true great of the past decade. If Lionel Messi never scored another goal, his importance to the team would still be akin to that of Iniesta.
Finally, a word for Cristiano Ronaldo, who many have argued shouldn’t have made the top 3 this year ahead of Barcelona’s Luis Suarez. He may have had an ultimately disappointing year with Real Madrid in terms of trophies, but his goalscoring has remained consistently phenomenal throughout 2015, with no other player surpassing his goal total or his goals per game ratio. For that reason alone, he deserves his plaudits.
Ronaldo’s final 2015 calendar year stats
But it is Lionel Messi that has shined brighter than the rest in 2015, taking home his FIFTH FIFA Ballon d’Or! Congratulations Lionel Messi!!!