For soccer fans around the globe, 2016 was one unforgettable year. It was a year in which the “Davids” dwarfed the “Goliaths” of the footballing
On the individual fronts, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continued their dominance, through consistent, overwhelming displays over the course of the year. Even though the duo recorded contrasting successes in the year, they were still by some margins the best players in the year. Unsurprisingly, both players were nominated for both the Balon d’Or (of which Ronaldo was named the winner in December) and the FIFA Best Player Awards, for a record 9th time.
Tonight, hundreds of millions of soccer fans across the globe will focus on Zurich to get to know who goes home with the FIFA Best Player Award between arguably football most consistent duos ever. As we all anticipate for the event, I have enlisted five reasons why each of Messi and Ronaldo deserves to go home with the award. Here they are:
· Cristiano Ronaldo
1. Led the Portuguese National Side to a monumental triumph at the Euros. His leadership strengths on and off the field as well as three goals assisted the side to its first ever international victory.
2. Helped Real Madrid on the road to La Decima, by scoring a record 16 times and netting the decisive penalty kick in the final against Athletico Madrid. Also won the UEFA Super Cup with the team.
3. Singlehandedly secured the Club World Cup for Real Madrid by scoring a hat-trick in the final.
4. Won the UEFA Best Player Award for his performances in both the Euros and the UEFA Champions League.
5. Ended the year as the Leading All-Time Goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 95 goals, two ahead of Lionel Messi.
· Lionel Messi
1. Won the domestic double with Barcelona and led the league’s assist chart with 16 assists together with Luis Suarez. Also won the Spanish Super Copa with the Catalan Giant
2. Had the highest number of goals in the 2016 Calendar year across Europe with 59 goals, while Ronaldo turned in 55 goals
3. Led the Assists chat across Europe in the calendar year with 32 assists. Cr7 recorded 17 within that same period
4. Led Argentina to her 2nd successive Copa America finals before losing to Chile in the final. Messi himself missed a penalty kick in the final but was arguably the best player in the tournament
5. Ended the year as the leading goal-scorer in Spanish La Liga, UEFA Champions League and European competitions.
My Verdict: Choosing between the two players without prejudice is never an easy task for any football analyst, given the qualities of both players. However, judging by individual stats, Lionel Messi seems to edge out Cristiano Ronaldo for the year in review. On the other hand, Cristiano won the two biggest tournaments in 2016, the Euros and the Champions League; thus it will be almost impossible to overlook these for individual stats. Since the Award is vote-based, I think whoever is announced as the winner between the two talismans utmostly deserves it.