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The world's greatest footballers - but who's the best?

The battle of Messi vs Ronaldo has the world gripped.

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Who Should Win the Ballon d’Or?

| 37 Comments

The 3-man shortlist has now been revealed for this year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or award and for the 7th time in 8 years, Messi and Ronaldo make up 2 thirds of it; the only blip courtesy of Ronaldo in 2010 who missed out thanks to Iniesta and Xavi, both World Cup winners that year with Spain.

Messi currently leads the way in terms of past wins having won the trophy a world record 4 times, whilst Ronaldo has won 2. Both players have also finished 2nd on 3 occasions and Ronaldo has a 3rd place finish to his name as well.

ballon-dor-winners-ronaldo-messi
Ballon d’Or Finishes
Player 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place
Messi 4 3 0
Ronaldo 2 3 1

It is Ronaldo though who reigns as current Ballon d’Or holder, and who has shown no signs of wanting to relinquish his grip on this prestigious award.

Three’s a Crowd

Before we press on, a mention for this year’s 3rd name in the list; Manuel Neuer. The commanding German has had an exceptional year, the crowning glory of which was in July when he captained his country to World Cup glory. It’s refreshing to see a goalkeeper make the final 3-man shortlist – he is indeed the first to do so since his compatriot Oliver Kahn finished 2nd in 2002 – a whole 12 years ago!

Neuer was probably Germany’s stand-out player in the World Cup – no easy feat for a goalkeeper – and has continued to impress for Bayern Munich this season. He has fully justified his largely undisputed position as best ‘keeper in the world and his place in this year’s 3-man Ballon d’Or shortlist is fully deserved for me.

So… Messi or Ronaldo?

The debate as to who is the better player has raged on for years now, with the pendulum edging slightly closer to Messi for much of this decade’s beginning. However, in the past year or 2 it is Ronaldo who has seen a significant surge in form and support, which ultimately resulted in him ending Lionel Messi’s incredible 4-year run of Ballon d’Or triumphs.

So as their battle for supremacy resumes, who deserves to take the mantle of the world’s greatest player for 2014?

Ronaldo the Prolific

Cristiano Ronaldo has gone from strength to strength in 2014, picking up from where he left off in the previous year. He finished the 2013/14 season strongly, securing the Pichichi Trophy (La Liga top scorer) with 31 goals in 30 games and scored a record 17 goals (in just 11 games) on the way to helping Real Madrid win “La Decima”; their 10th Champions League trophy which had frustratingly eluded them for so long.

All in all he clocked off with 51 goals in 47 games, ensuring a 3rd European Golden Shoe (highest league goalscorer in Europe) in the process.

His World Cup campaign barely left a mark on his 2014 review as an average Portugal side limped out at the group stage.

Back to Real Madrid though and the beginning of the 2014/15 season. Ronaldo has been northing short of astonishing so far this season, having scored 20 league goals in just 12 appearances, and a total of 26 goals in 20 games across all competitions. Three hat-tricks and 9 assists alongside this frightening strike rate has propelled Cristiano to a level that has even Messi straining his neck to get a glimpse.

Ronaldo’s Overall Calendar Year Stats for 2014
Goals Assists Appearances
Portugal 5 1 9
Real Madrid 50 18 46
Total 55 19 55

Correct as of 1st December 2014. See the calendar year page for guaranteed up to date 2014 statistics

Messi the Record Breaker

Ronaldo’s dominance this season has cast everyone in his shadow, but Messi has recently stepped up his campaign to wrestle back the Ballon d’Or trophy he got so used to holding aloft. Of course, Lionel Messi can never live in the shadows for too long and he duly exploded into life last week scoring 2 hat-tricks in 4 days, breaking two mammoth records in the process.

Messi equalled the great Telmo Zarra’s 59 year old record of 251 La Liga goals before extending the record to 253 by completing his hat-trick. Two days later he broke Raul’s all time Champions League goals record (71 goals) with another hat-trick, taking his record to 74 goals in this competition.

And let’s not forget that towards the end of the 2013/14 season, Lionel Messi became the highest goalscorer of all time in El Clasico fixtures too – and how did he break this record? That’s right – another hat-trick.

It’s not been a classic year for Leo, but the boy knows how to topple legendary records and with some style too.

The World Cup was – and still is – a major talking point when discussing Messi’s legacy, so he found himself under a pretty intense spotlight at this year’s competition. Overall, he had a very strong tournament, scoring and creating some vital goals as he lead an Argentina team that never really excited to the final.

It was then that Messi missed what was perhaps a chance to cement his place amongst history’s elite as he missed a golden opportunity to give his country a World Cup they crave so greatly. After this disappointment, he was awarded with the Adidas Golden Ball for being the tournament’s best player, a controversial decision for most. There’s no denying he played well and was instrumental in Argentina’s path to the final, but it was widely felt that there were better performers in Brazil this summer.

Messi’s Overall Calendar Year Stats for 2014
Goals Assists Appearances
Argentina 8 2 14
Barcelona 44 19 48
Total 52 21 62

Correct as of 1st December 2014. See the calendar year page for guaranteed up to date 2014 statistics

So who deserves to win the 2014 Ballon d’Or?

We’ve seen the case for both players now and so it’s time to make a decision. Ronaldo has clearly upped the ante in terms of goalscoring, and was a Champions League winner in 2014. Messi had a strong (but far from mind-blowing) World Cup, and has broken legendary, long-standing records.

For me, it’s difficult to look too far past the statistics. Ronaldo’s averaged a goal a game for club and country this year whilst Messi has hit 0.84 goals per game; below the par for which he has set himself in seasons gone by. Add to that the fact that Ronaldo has won Europe’s biggest prize in the Champions League, and it’s evident that you’re looking at the top performer for 2014.

A win would move Ronaldo to 3 Ballon d’Ors in total; just 1 behind Messi.

Whatever happens when the trophy is awarded on January 12th 2015, we should be grateful that we are able to witness 2 players that are – in my opinion – the best to have ever graced the game.

Disagree? Have your say in the comments below.

  • Raul154

    For this time i guess cr7 should win it.. Messi’s worldcup effort has been appreciated by the golden ball (though controversial). In terms of club football i guess cr7 had a better year in terms of goal scoring and club victory.. Barca is somewhat lagging these two seasons.. Taking nothing away they are a good team.. If messi won the wc i would clearly want him to win but however now i support cr7 for victory…

    Good comments are appreciated..

  • Sk Alamin

    cr7

  • george

    Cristiano Ronaldo deserves

  • http://www.fc-turma.oi/ Ghertoiu Stelist

    There is no debate needed.Ronaldo won every fu**ing individual trophy,excepting WC golden ball. 58 goals in 55 matches,more than 1 goal/match throughout a year compared to 52 goals in 62 apps,0 trophies and poor performing in 90% of the big matches including the knockout stage of the WC.
    This is clearly Ronaldo s year.

  • Abdelghani Madrid

    I can bet all my wealth (which is about $10) that Ronaldo is going to win the Ballon D’or this year, no doubt about it.

  • Abdou Babdoy Dj-khaled

    CR7

  • Albert Heisenberg

    CR7. Easily

  • Aerodacty007

    Ronaldo deserves it this year! Better luck next year Leo! If only Higuain had scored.

  • Ali Rizwan

    For all CR7 fans;

    inclusion of Neuer in the final three list is not good news for you, It means that, the criteria to award a Ballon D’or is not purely residing on number of goals, instead of scoring goal, it is based on match winning performances, that’s why we have Neuer in the final three list.

    For all Messi Fans:

    Good news for you, Messi has been giving the match winning performances regularly from the worldcup, uptil now he have been awarded 5 MotM in WC, 5 MotM in CL & 8 MotM in La liga.

    • Colin

      Except for the fact that madrid just went on a 22 game win streak, and Ronaldo has created double the chances as Messi in many less games. You have to look at the facts. You are just a Messi fan look at the stats im sorry but Ronaldo has it this year

  • diccy

    CR7 is the best,best,best and i mean best in the world of football ever. The goal scoring machine, He deserves the trophy. Go Ronaldo Goooooooooo…….

  • Hakim

    messy must win see

    -all records he break this year( champions league top scorer and la liga top scorer for all times.

    -messy made great effort for Argentina world cup final( how he passes goal for di maria)

    in Holland game.

    -last year he was injured for long time during beginning of season but he finish la liga top scorer less than by only three goals by ronaldo.

    -see his talent this year he scores 20 but more assists for his team.his team more

    dependent on him.(Barcelona 30%) .

    -last year ronlado with out getting big trophy he won ball dor thanks to neymar contribution even less than by small points.

    • Anirudh Dev

      Hakim u dont even know the spelling of messi,u write messy.

      n u call yourself a messi supporter.

      CR7 is better and thanks to you, Leo is MESSY!!!!!!!!

  • Hakim

    I DO NO WHY MESSY BREAKS RECORDS IT WILL NOT EXAGGERATED BUT FOR ROLANDO ALWAYS.I F WE COMPARE INDIVIDUAL TALENTS STILL MESSY FAR BETTER THAN ROLANDO THIS YEAR.

  • Hakim

    MESSY IS BEST PLAYER OF WORLD CUP…HE GOT GOLDEN BALL.
    IT IS SHAME FOR FIFA TO GIVE THIS BAL DOR FOR NOT QUALIFYING FROM HIS GROUP STAGES.

  • Danial Kamran

    Where still not that close to the ballon dor final. Messi just bounced back to his old self and keeps on scoring like this Messi might just catch up plus you guys forgot that messi is doing a lot better then ronaldo at the Champions League. Plus Messi lead Argentina to the finals and lost to Germany which they had a full army with them while Argentina only had messi. So people should consider the world cup and the UCL instead of the league messi beats ronaldo in two catorgies. And LOL Ronaldo couldnt even make it out of the group stage they should of at least gone second LOL. Oh and count how he broke two records! in one week with 2 hat tricks. if you took all of ronaldos penalties away then Messi would have more. Messi just shows that he doesnt need penalties to earn hat tricks. Last Messi has been such a team player this year and will lead the assist in the league when he has a youngester like neymar and suraez.

  • http://www.bravepiano.cf utkarsh dubey

    MESSI HAS ALWAYS ON THE TOP FROM LAST MANY YEARS SO THIS TIME MESSI SHOULD WIN THE BALLON’D TROPHY

    • Mayank Khamparia

      Lol really? hahaha

  • Marcello

    Ronaldo was better than messi this year. But last year’s golden ball was a gift to ronaldo when he didin’t deserve it. So why can’t messi get a GIFT like ronaldo did last year? That way it’s all settled. Messi should’ve won it last year and ronaldo this one not ronaldo both years in a row. Messi will always be better even if ronaldo performs better. The best Messi 91 goals in a year, best ronaldo 69 goals in a year. That says it all.

  • Fabian

    Hands down it’s Messi that should win this year. Spectacular year he is having breaking so many Records this year.

  • Jemel

    Ronaldo deserves it because he is better messi was la liga for 10 years and scored 253 goals ronaldo was their for 5 years and has 203 goals when messi was five years in LA liga he didn’t. Even have that many goals so ronaldo should win messi only broke the record cause he was there longer than ronaldo #halamadrid#
    O

    • Ahmed Reda Ahmed

      Such a pointless observation. Why not compare like for like? Messi started in La Liga when he was like 18 years old. Do you expect him to be scoring over a goal a game at that age? If you want to make a comparison, you look at the time Ronaldo joined Real Madrid. From that moment on, Messi has scored more goals in La Liga than Ronaldo. Both players have been in their prime during those years. If you’re going to look at Messi when he was 18 years old, then you should do the same for Ronaldo. Messi has the better statistics in his overall career than Ronaldo does. More importantly, this award is for the year 2014, not who had the best career (which would easily go to Messi).

  • http://footballblogging123.blogspot.co.uk/ Marqes Muir

    i wrote blog about the exact same thing check out my opinion. use the link: http://footballblogging123.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/ballondor-champion-lionel.html

    tell me if you agree or dis agree
    thanks.

  • Nishil shah

    Lionel Messi With No Doubts..

  • maxp

    Oh you – just looking at the numbers. If you look what each player does on the pitch then the answer for me is clearly Messi – with no doubt.

    Most of Ronaldo’s goals are tap-ins which reflects more the strength of Real Madrid than CR7. This is clearly seen Portugals games where Ronaldo can make the difference only against weak countries.

    Even if Messi’s performance in WC2014 could had been better, it was so much beyond Ronaldo’s performance that one cannot even start to talk about it. Messi was the deciding factor in practically every success that Argentina had.

    There is one type of goal where Ronaldo does perform better and those are the headers, but for me at least, this is not enough – there are a lot of players with good headers (even in Real Madrid).

  • Mojtaba Ziaadini

    So, Where is Neuer?

  • DivYesh KakdiYa

    Only messi

  • Hassoon Klef

    Cristiano Ronaldo is gonna win the Ballon D’or

  • Barca

    Messi he is the best!

  • Felipe Pretel

    Very nice. I think it’s impossible to apreciate Messi AND Ronaldo. It’s easy if yoy are a normal fan. But for the people (football hardcore fans) this rivalry is something that us (fans) bought it becausa all que things these two aliens have done it’s simple outrageous. I think it happens to everyone, including the owner of this page. That’s why i congratulate you. Despite the fact you are a Messi fan you can recognize the quality of both. Thanks and this page is fuckin’ awesome dude. Hugs from Brazil.

  • Avash

    Even though i am a CR7 fan, i would say CR7 only deserved 1 balon dor and Messi only deserved 2 because Wesley sneijder and Inieasta should have won instead of messi. And last year Ribery should have won instead of CR7 becuase ribery won everything that season and helped Bayern out. However this no doubt that CR7 would out perform Messi and Neur. Although Messi had a fantastic world cup, and lots of important records broken i wouldnt say he out performs ronaldo and same with neur. I would say CR7 then neur followed by Messi this year!.

  • Nauman Iqbal

    ronaldo 1st place 2nd place 3rd place
    2 4 0
    messi 1st place 2nd place 3rd place
    4 2 1
    @stephen craig
    this time messi dont even deserve to be in top 3
    ronaldo is a worthy winner

  • Henkie

    CR7, had the best year of the three in my eyes.

  • Abdulrahman Ali

    Really?

    Are people still arguing about who should win Ballon d’or?

    Ronaldo won the award even before the world cup.

    And people are still talking?

    What is ballon d’or?

    Its an award given to the best player of that calendar on the basis of individual performances of the whole 12 months.

    Now lets examine messi…

    58 goals 21 assists

    world cup golden ball

    am I missing anything? I think not.

    Lets not waste time with messi, he had a poor year, his fans should just be quiet

    Messi wasn’t even nominated for European footballer of the year,

    Only God knows how he made it to top 3 of Ballon d’or

    Neuer…

    He won the bundesliga

    The DFP pokal

    The world cup

    and the world cup golden glove

    Very impressive year

    Although I feel 2013 would have been a better year to nominate neuer, not Ribery

    Bayern won everything and neuer broke many goal keeping records.

    he deserves 2014 ballon d’or as well.

    As for Ronaldo. Where do I start?

    62 goals and 22 assists (Top scorer of 2014)

    UEFA champions league

    Copa del rey

    UEFA super cup

    And the FIFA club world cup

    La Liga top scorer

    Champions league top scorer

    European golden shoe

    La Liga best player

    La Liga best forward

    La Liga goal of the season

    UEFA super cup man of the match award

    Fifa club world cup silver ball

    World soccer player of the year

    European footballer of the year

    Tropheo alferdo di Stefano (La Liga player of the year)

    ESPY best international athlete

    BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

    Globe soccer player of the year

    Lets not waste each others time here,

    Ronaldo has no competition for this award

    I could mention more awards outside football that he won.

    As for those who want to complain about the world cup.

    It could have been a strong argument

    But ever since Messi won the 2010 ballon d’or without even making it to the semis or even scoring a goal

    it gave a new understanding to the ballon d’or

    World cup is the best football trophy but its also a one month tournament

    the remaining 11 months carries more weight

    And I also say this

    WHY SHOULD THE WORLD’S BEST PLAYER COME FROM THE WORLD CUP WINNING TEAM WHEN THE BEST PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT DIDN’T EVEN COME FROM THE WINNING TEAM??? LMAO Sami khedira was the only German to win champions league and the world cup. Maby they should consider him.

  • Abdulrahman Ali

    In terms of records….
    Let me tell you guys something
    Messi didn’t set any record this year.
    breaking the all-time la liga record and champions league record should not be a criteria.
    Cuz he didn’t score the whole of them this 2014
    if franchesco Totti broke seri a all-time goal scoring record in this 2014,
    Would you nominate him for Ballon d’or?
    I think not.

  • Abdulrahman Ali

    Really?

    Are people still arguing about who should win Ballon d’or?

    Ronaldo won the award even before the world cup.

    And people are still talking?

    What is ballon d’or?

    Its an award given to the best player of that calendar on the basis of individual performances of the whole 12 months.

    Now lets examine messi…

    58 goals 21 assists

    world cup golden ball

    am I missing anything? I think not.

    Lets not waste time with messi, he had a poor year, his fans should just be quiet

    Messi wasn’t even nominated for European footballer of the year,

    Only God knows how he made it to top 3 of Ballon d’or

    Manuel Neuer…

    He won the bundesliga

    The DFP pokal

    The world cup

    and the world cup golden glove

    Very impressive year

    Although I feel 2013 would have been a better year to nominate neuer, not Ribery

    Bayern won everything and neuer broke many goal keeping records.

    he deserves 2014 ballon d’or as well.

    As for Ronaldo. Where do I start?

    62 goals and 22 assists (Top scorer of 2014)

    UEFA champions league

    Copa del rey

    UEFA super cup

    And the FIFA club world cup

    La Liga top scorer

    Champions league top scorer

    European golden shoe

    La Liga best player

    La Liga best forward

    La Liga goal of the season

    UEFA super cup man of the match award

    Fifa club world cup silver ball

    World soccer player of the year

    European footballer of the year

    Tropheo alferdo di Stefano (La Liga player of the year)

    ESPY best international athlete

    BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year

    Globe soccer player of the year

    Lets not waste each others time here,

    Ronaldo has no competition for this award

    I could mention more awards outside football that he won.

    As for those who want to complain about the world cup.

    It could have been a strong argument

    But ever since Messi won the 2010 ballon d’or without even making it to the semis or even scoring a single goal.

    it gave a new understanding to the ballon d’or system.

    World cup is the best football trophy but its also a one month tournament

    the remaining 11 months carries more weight.

    And I also say this

    WHY SHOULD THE WORLD’S BEST PLAYER COME FROM THE WORLD CUP WINNING TEAM WHEN THE BEST PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT DIDN’T EVEN COME FROM THE WINNING TEAM???
    LMAO Sami khedira was the only German to win champions league and the world cup. Maby they should consider him.

  • abdullanadir

    MESSI IS THE BEST PLAYER OF THE GALAXIES….

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