Posts Tagged ‘Ronaldo’

Ballon d’Or 2012: A Case For Ronaldo

Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the three nominees for the Ballon d’Or this calendar year. But of course only one of them can win the award. The Ballon d’Or is meant to be awarded to the most outstanding player of the year and not given to someone who may be the best player on the planet. Of course team achievements are a huge part in the selecting of the winner. But ultimately it is down to personal achievements.

The obvious favourite is Barcelona’s Messi who is about to break Gerd Muller’s goal scoring record for a calendar year. The Argentine has, at time of writing, 84 goals with three league games remaining a Champions League fixture and a Copa del Ray fixture. This is a phenomenal achievement and one we will not see again for a long time. Unless the little man has a similar year in 2013. Despite this spectacular landmark Messi isn’t in a one horse race for the Ballon d’Or which he has won three years in a row. The two other contender’s have just of much of a chance of winning the prize. This is mainly down to the European Championship that took place this summer, which of course, Messi did not partake.

First up, his teammate, Iniesta. Iniesta is part of what could be considered the greatest international side there is. He’s the linchpin in Spain’s dominance of world football at the moment and was named player of the tournament of the European Championship. Iniesta also won UEFA’s Champions League best player this year, where Messi and Ronaldo were the other nominees, but many saw this as a mere token gesture to a fantastic career. Alas Iniesta is the outsider of the three and when the best player in the world today is argued it is argument between Ronaldo and Messi and not Iniesta.

Ronaldo Silencing the Nou Camp

Ronaldo Silencing the Nou Camp

So then the man from Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo had probably his best season since his 07/08 season with Manchester United, which saw him win the Ballon d’Or. With Real Madrid he won the La Liga title as Jose’s men finally toppled their Catalonian rivals. He also was instrumental in Portugal’s Euro campaign as they were knocked out on penalties in the semi-final to eventual champions Spain. In that semi-final for 90 minutes it was Portugal that were more dominating and looked the more likely to grab a winner. In extra time tired legs showed and the game eventually went to penalties. Ronaldo, who always wants to be the hero, elected to take the fifth peno but it never came to that as Spain went through after their fourth penalty. Ronaldo who has similar percentage of importance of goals as Messi does at Barca has scored a remarkable 58 goals this year but even that number is dwarfed by Messi’s 84. But sometimes stats alone can lead you down the wrong path. What is 84 goals if they are all the third and fourth goal in a 6-0 win? Compared to a 1-0 winning goal? The difference is simple, one is a goal that boosts the goal difference and the other is changing one point into three. Of course, that is a very harsh statement and an exaggerated one but nevertheless can serve a purpose in deciding the Ballon d’Or winner.

Lionel Messi, The Current Ballon d'Or Winner

Lionel Messi, The Current Ballon d’Or Winner

Alas I am not going to sit down here and go through all 84 of Messi’s goals and 58 of Ronaldo’s but I will look at the key games of the year. When the El Clasico took place last season Real were four points clear and a victory would all but guarantee the title, the match took place in the Nou Camp and after Alexis Sanchez cancelled out Sami Khedira earlier effort. The match was perfectly poised, until Ronaldo got on the end of a Mesut Ozil pass and slotted the ball past Victor Valdes silencing the 90,000 Barca fans. On a night that ultimately decided the title where both Messi and Ronaldo were playing only one of them scored the winning goal. The other two defining games of the respective player’s season was their Champions League semi-final. Barca faced Chelsea and Real Madrid faced Bayern Munich. Both players saw their teams behind after the first leg and both where playing at home in the second leg. Barca drew 2-2 with Chelsea and Messi missed a penalty which saw Chelsea through 3-2 on aggregate. Real Madrid won 2-1 (levelling the tie on aggregate) and it was Ronaldo who scored both for Madrid, Madrid were eliminated on penalties. The other time Messi and Ronaldo faced each other throughout the year (bar the super cup) was in the league this season where both Messi and Ronaldo were on target twice in a 2-2 draw.

So despite Messi’s soon to be record goal scoring year, The Ballon d’Or may not fall on his lap and the Portuguese man may just take home the award four year’s after first winning it.

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Ronaldo & Portugal v Spain

Ronaldo celebrates his goal versus the Czech Republic

Ronaldo celebrates his goal versus the Czech Republic

Portugal take on Spain tonight in the first of the Euro 2012 semi finals. It has been a fantastic tournament thus far, with just one 0-0 draw which in turn had a wonderful penalty shootout including that Pirlo chip.

The four semi-finalists each deserve their spot and all have a good chance of lifting the trophy. Although in Portugal’s case it isn’t a team effort as such, it is more of a Ronaldo plus 10 other men’s effort that has gotten them to the crunch stage of the tournament.

But is that fair to the rest of the team? In the Portugal squad you have players such as Nani, a Champions League winner and a three time Premier League winner; you also have Raul Meireles, who has recently won the F.A Cup with Chelsea and played a vital role in the team that got Chelsea to the Champions League final this year; also in the squad is centre back Pepe and left back Fabio Coentrao who won the La Liga title with Real Madrid (although Coentrao did only start 11 league games); Also in the squad is full back Joao Pereira who is hot property at the moment and is apparently being chased by Chelsea.

All those have an impressive CV individually but none are superstar players that can win a game on his own. Up step Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s form at the tournament have been consistent with Ronaldo’s individual form, against Denmark, Ronaldo had a poor game and Denmark really had a good chance of getting something out of this game and, probably should have. But Portugal’s lesser stars got them a vital three points winning 3-2.

The last game of Group B was Ronaldo’s first good performance in the tournament grabbing the two goals for Portugal that took them through to the quarter finals as runner-ups to Germany.

In the quarter finals, another Man of the Match performance by Ronaldo and another goal was enough to beat Group A winners Czech Republic to see Portugal through to the semi-finals and has given Ronaldo the required confidence he needs to overcome the World champions and defending European champions Spain. The Spain side, on paper, look deserving of their crown as World and European champions and thus far have been impressive to have eased into the semi finals, the Spanish play some amazing football at times and it seems that Portugal will have to play a more reserved game if they have any chance of getting through to the final. Portugal’s tactics may result in a dull game but hopefully it won’t be. Hopefully the Spanish play at a higher tempo then usual to break down their opponents and Portugal in turn can brake fast with Ronaldo on the end of a Nani through ball possibly? Ronaldo v Iker in a one on one situation, who would win this battle of nerve?

There is no doubt though, if Portugal win tonight and beat Spain through a Ronaldo goal or individual piece of magic that he would be a certainly to pick up this years Ballon d’Or award as Messi doesn’t play in an international tournament this summer.

Football Topic end of season awards.

The end of the season has come and it’s time to declare the winners of each category in our opinion for the Premiership, Serie A and La Liga.

Barclays Premier League:

Darren’s picks –

Player of the season: Vincent Kompany
Young player of the season: Sergio Aguero
Manager of the season: Alan Pardew
Signing of the season: Nikica Jelavic
Overachievers: Newcastle/Norwich
Underperformers: Aston Villa
Flop of the season: Stewart Downing
Comeback player of the season: Paul Scholes
Moment of the season: City’s comeback on the last day to clinch the title.
Match of the season: Man United 4-4 Everton
Goal of the season: Haten Ben Arfa vs Bolton. Wonderful solo run.
Hero of the season: Fabrice Muamba. It was amazing to see him back at the Reebok.
Villain of the season: Luis Suarez/Joey Barton
Unsung Hero: Alex Song

 

Our young player of the season.

Craig’s pick –

Player of the season: Robin Van Persie
Young player of the season: Sergio Aguero
Manager of the season: Alan Pardew
Signing of the season: Demba Ba
Overachievers: Newcastle
Underperformers: Aston Villa/Liverpool
Flop of the season: Stewart Downing
Comeback player of the season:Paul Scholes
Moment of the season: Fabrice Muamba returning to Reebok
Match of the season: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham
Goal of the season: Mata Volley v MUFC
Hero of the season: Mario Balotelli
Villain of the season: Carlos Tevez
Unsung Hero: Grant Holt

Serie A:

Ibra had his best season as an individual but failed to win a major title in the end.

Player of the season: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Young player of the season: Gaston Ramirez
Manager of the season: Antonio Conte
Signing of the season: Andrea Pirlo
Overachievers: Lazio
Underperformers: Inter/Genoa
Flop of the season: Diego Forlan
Comeback player of the season: Andrea Pirlo/Diego Milito
Moment of the season: Del Piero and Pippo Inzaghi scoring on the last day of the season
Match of the season: Inter 4-2 Ac Milan/ Inter 4-4 Palermo
Goal of the season: Juan Cuadrado vs Siena
Hero of the season: Heroes, Udinese offering to take care of the late Piermario Morosini’s disabled sister.
Villain of the season: Delio Rossi for attacking his own player/ Genoa Ultras.
Unsung Hero: Antonio Nocerino

La Liga:

Player of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo
Young player of the season: Javi Martinez
Manager of the season: Jose Mourinho
Signing of the season: Radamel Falcao
Overachievers: Malaga
Underperformers: Villarreal
Flop of the season: Ruud Van Nistelrooy 28Games 4 goals
Comeback player of the season: Abidal playing again after cancer
Moment of the season: Ronaldo silences the Nou Camp
Match of the season: Levente 3-5 Rayo Vallecano
Goal of the season: Ronaldo 1st v Levante
Hero of the season: Eric Abidal
Villain of the season: Pepe
Unsung Hero: Xabi Alonso

Pepe seemed to be constantly in trouble. What’s new?

Who would be your picks?

Euro 2012 – Group B

Group B – or otherwise known as the “Group of Death”. Containing Portugal, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark, it’s hard to argue against that. Many expect Germany to top the group while Portugal and Netherlands fight it out for second place. However Denmark could well take points off teams in this groups, although it’s very unlikely that they will qualify.

Portugal

European Championship Record: 1984 Semi-finals, 1996 Quarter-finals, 2000 Semi-finals, 2004 Runners-up, 2008 Quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 5th

The 2004 finalists weren’t the most convincing in qualifying, coming second behind Denmark. Following defeats to both Norway and Dermark as well as a 4-4 draw with Cyprus at home there were questions being asked of Paulo Bento’s men. They met Bosnia & Herzegovina in the play-off’s were they struggled in the first leg playing out a 0-0 draw in Bosnia. However they made no mistake in the second leg putting six in the back of the Bosnian’s net, winning 6-2 on the night. Portugal will need to be more consistent if they are to get through this group.

Key Players:

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has had his best season to date netting 59 goals in 53 games for Real Madrid, lifting the La Liga in the process. He also scored seven goals in the qualifiers. There is no doubt that he possesses the talent to change a match with one moment of brilliance and defenders will be wary of his ability to score goals from almost anywhere on the pitch. However Ronaldo hasn’t made a major impact for Portugal in any of the major finals he’s played in so far but will be hoping that this time he can lead his national team to glory. He will need to continue his run of form if Portugal are to avoid an early group stage exit.

Fabio Coentrao

Prior to the 2010 World Cup not much people considered Coentrao to be a potential star for Portugal but when he was placed in left-back at the World Cup he made no mistakes cementing a first team place. He was arguably Portugal’s best player in South Africa, playing a huge part in the 7-0 win over North Korea as well as putting in solid performances against Ivory Coast, Brazil and Spain. He missed the Norway and Denmark matches through injury – this was the only two games they lost. He transferred to Real Madrid in July 2011 from Benfica for €30 million and played 19 games for the Spanish champions.

Germany

European Championship Record: 1972 Winners, 1976 Runners-up, 1980 Winners, 1984 Group Stage, 1988 Semi-finals, 1992 Runners-up, 1996 Winners, 2000 Group stage, 2004 Group stage, 2008 Runners-up.

World Ranking: 2nd

Three times winners Germany will be hoping to add a fourth European Championship to their trophy cabinet this Summer, and who would bet against them? Narrowly defeated by Spain at the Euro 2008 final, Germany will be confident of going one step further this time around. A young and exciting squad full of confidence they seem to have the winning formula. The Germans stormed through their qualifying group going undefeated and scoring 34 goals in just 10 games.  If anyone is to dethrone Spain you would put your money on Germany.

Key players:

Philip Lahm

Captain of both his club Bayern Munich and his country, Lahm is a model professional. It’s very rare to see him have a bad game on either stage. This could be a Summer to remember for the Munich native as he could lift both the Champions League and European Championship. Being a right-footed left-back gives him the ability to cut inside opponents and deliver crosses into the box. He scored the last minute winner against Turkey in the semi-finals of Euro 2008 to give Germany a 3-2 win and progress to the final, but it’s Lahm’s solid defending that has been a key reason for his success to date.

Mesut Ozil

Ozil set the world alight following his performances in the 2010 World Cup, being nominated for the Golden Ball (Best Player) for his efforts. After the tournament many major European clubs wanted him, including the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona but it was to Real Madrid that he signed for in August of 2010 for around €15 million. Ozil usually plays behind the forwards, playing the killer through ball or hitting a beautiful shot at goal with his left boot. In the nine games he played in qualifying he scored five goals as well as setting-up more goals than any other European player with seven. At only 23, Ozil will be hoping to make Euro 2012 a special tournament for both himself and his team-mates.

Netherlands

European Championship Record: 1976 Third, 1980 Group stage, 1988 Winners, 1992 Semi-finals, 1996 Quarter-finals, 2000 Semi-finals, 2004 Semi-finals, 2008 quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 4th

Yet another side in this group that will feel they can go all the way and win it. The 2010 World Cup finalists didn’t win the support of much neutrals in South Africa with their “anti-football” tactics, however the Dutch fans were very proud of what their side achieved. Going forward the Netherlands prove as much as threat as Spain or Germany but their weakness is definitely at the back like it has been for some amount of years. Despite a rather weak defence compared to other top European nations, Netherlands have won 23 out 25 competitive international games. Their only defeats coming to Spain at the 2010 World Cup final and a 3-2 defeat away to Sweden in qualifying for Euro 2012.

Key Players:

Robin Van Persie

Van Persie proved to the world that he is one of the best forwards in the world this season after netting 30 Premier League goals for Arsenal so far. If he can continue to score goals in the Euro’s he could well be lifting his first major trophy since winning the FA Cup in 2005. Van Persie scored six goals in six games in qualifying – four of which came against San Marino. After the four goals he was entered into the Dutch national teams top 10 all-time top goal scorers with a tally of 25 goals, surpassing Marco Van Basten. Can Van Persie continue to score goals and help his side to European glory?

Arjen Robben

Despite not playing a single game in qualifying Arjen Robben still remains a key player for Holland. He was one of the stars in their World Cup campaign, scoring against Slovakia and Uruguay. That year he lost both the World Cup and Champions League final. This year, however, he could lift both the European Championship and Champions League. A bit more luck this time around for the Dutch winger? He was the star of the show in Holland’s 3-2 over England at Wembley, scoring two goals. Robben will be hoping to give some more defenders nightmares at Euro 2012.

Denmark

European Championship Record: 1964 Fourth, 1984 Semi-finals, 1988 Group stage, 1992 Winners, 1996 Group stage, 2000 Group stage, 2004 Quarter-finals.

World Ranking: 10th

Many have wrote Denmark off already, not expecting them to put up much of a fight. Although it’s very unlikely the Danes will qualify they are very capable of taking points of the other three. They finished ahead of Portugal in qualifying after all. A team mixed with young talent and experienced players they could well put up a fight this Summer. Not many are naive enough to expect Denmark to relive the memories of twenty years gone when they lifted the European Championship. They could have a say on who qualifies for the quarter-finals and who doesn’t.

Key players:

Christian Eriksen

Possibly one of the most closely monitored players at this years finals. The 20 year old played in every single one of Denmark’s qualifying games and has captured the attention of many big European clubs. Having scored against Iceland in the qualifiers he became the youngest ever Danish player to score a goal in European qualification. He has been dubbed as “the new Michael Laudrup”. He was a key player for Ajax as they lifted the Eredivisie this season. Accurate passing and a powerful shot from distance, Eriksen is a real threat to opposing defenders. If he is to impress this Summer then it’s very unlikely that Ajax will hold onto their young Danish starlet.

Dennis Rommedahl

Another player that has played every game in qualifying is 33 year old Dennis Rommedahl. He may be in his twilight years but he still remains a vital part of the Danish team. Rommedahl netted three goals and assisted five in the eight qualifying games. He is now Denmark’s most capped outfield player of all-time with 114 caps. He was arguably Denmark’s best player at the World Cup with his man of the match performance coming against Cameroon where he made and scored a goal. Will this be Rommedahl’s last tournament or will he press on?

Final verdict: Germany to top the group and the Netherlands to grab second place after beating Portugal in the last game.