Just as a disclaimer before I begin this rant, I DON’T LIKE THE BALLON D’OR. I think it’s a popularity contest more than anything. But I’m devoting some attention to this year’s “award” because if Ronaldo wins, he and Messi will be tied 5-5. This would be a crisis scenario in the world of sports because, in 50 years, kids are going to look back on this era and say “wow, they both have 5 Ballon D’Ors! They must be equal!!”
We all that’s not the case. CR7 isn’t fit to shine Leo Messi’s shoes. But that’s not why giving him the 2017 Ballon D’Or would be a high crime. Here’s why:
If it isn’t clear by now, I’m a numbers guy. While I do think that context is important, I’m still heavily reliant on hard statistics when judging players. And the numbers favor Messi.
In the 2016-17′ season and the first half of the 2017-18′ season–the two bits that are used to judge who wins the Ballon D’Or–Messi wipes the floor with Ronaldo in every category. Take a look:
|Goals||Chances Created||Successful Dribbles||Dribble %|
(all stats via Squawka).
How these two are even put in the same conversation is beyond me. While it’s undisputed amongst fans that Messi is a better playmaker and dribbler, for some weird reason, people seem to think that the two are on the same level when it comes to goalscoring. That’s ABSURD. Not only does Messi have the far superior goals to games ratio, he does without having to camp at the back post! So the context of the situation further pushes the ticker in Messi’s favor.
The Sheer Hypocrisy
If CR7 were to win the award with vastly inferior stats because his team won more trophies, that would be (sort of, but not really) understandable. But FIFA set precedent for this situation back in 2013.
It was late November of 2013. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona had won more trophies than CR7’s Real Madrid that calendar year. Due to injury, however, Ronaldo had slightly better stats. But most of the ballots were in by then, and Lionel Messi had won the Ballon D’Or, his fifth in a row.
But Portugal still had World Cup Qualifiers to play. With his team in desperate need of points to advance to Rio in 2014, Ronaldo scored a hattrick away against Sweden to see Portugal through. Because of that performance alone, Sepp Blatter decided to reopen voting. With the recent Sweden performance in voters’ minds, Cristiano Ronaldo won on the revote.
Sound familiar? Ronaldo’s Real Madrid have won more trophies than Messi’s Barça in 2017, but Messi has superior stats (the gap between Ronaldo and Messi’s stats in 2013 wasn’t nearly as big as it is in 2017). Not only that, but with his back against the wall and his team in need of points to advance to the World Cup, and Messi dropped a hattrick away against Ecuador, in a performance far more impressive than Ronaldo’s 2013 one against Sweden.
So voters, I urge you to save the world of sports, save your dignity, and save the world by voting LIONEL MESSI for the 2017 Ballon D’Or.