Blogs & Opinion


Guillem Balague:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Cem Takaci on Making his mark

"Hi Guillem, all of this hype sourounding jose mourinho and the saying that the wave is swinging for real madrid right now. But once Jose leaves and it does seem that he will if not this... " View all comments

Siyavuya Zamxaka on Awesome foursome

"wonderfull column as always...I think Madrid have a better chance of winning the Cup game in all of these 4 games. This is because Mourinho can play any system and not worry about how ... " View all comments

Ballon d'Or: Cristiano Ronaldo's improved image helped win, says Guillem Balague

Guillem Balague - Guillem Balague Posted 13th January 2014 view comments

Seemingly the perennial bridesmaid to the blushing bride that is Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo finally got the love and approbation from the world's footballing cognoscenti winning the 2013 Ballon d'Or in Zurich today.

Runner-up to the little Argentinian for three out of the last four years, Ronaldo's greatness as a superstar player has never been in question. But in these days of high profile image requirements that go beyond just the game, CR7 always seemed to find himself unfairly cast as the villain to the hero that has been the squeaky clean Messi.

Ronaldo: no longer seen as the villain

Ronaldo: no longer seen as the villain

Now the balance of the public's perceptions looks to be changing. It feels like the world has gone a bit tired of the same face at the top of the chain.

Franck Ribery said on Sunday that no matter who won, Messi should be considered the best player in the world and not many will argue with that, but it feels like everything has been allowed to tarnish the image of Messi in the last few months.

Made up stories, the tax situation (with many taking conclusions before the court case finished) and gestures on the pitch taken out of context have had the positive effect of rebalancing an image battle that had been very unfair on Ronaldo - they have both sacrificed and worked a lot to get where they are.

The media picture of villain and heroes is finally disappearing - they should both be considered heroes.

What is certain however is that Ronaldo seems to have been working on the building of a more user-friendly, less arrogant image than that of the pouting, strutting diva he has been perceived as by so many.

The much-publicised pictures and news footage of him warmly greeting Gareth Bale to the Bernabeu are a case in point. Or maybe the joys of fatherhood have helped him to mellow? Him backing up his team-mates versus Jose Mourinho won everybody's respect at Real Madrid too.

Inglorious

One thing that most certainly did affect the vote was FIFA's inglorious contribution to the event.

Originally all votes had to be in by November 15, but football's governing body then decided to extend the deadline to November 29 partly because they wanted as near as possible to a 100% poll, but also to take in the World Cup play-off games.

While a date extension was just - and only just - about defensible, the decision to announce that anyone that had previously voted could change their selection, was nothing short of shameful.

France Football, though, insisted that could not happen, votes couldn't be changed. The voting system has been a bit of a farce.

Without taking anything away from Ronaldo's triumph, the truth is that had the deadline not been extended, Messi could have picked up his fifth title in a row.

Ronaldo's stellar display in the play-off games against Sweden, when he scored all four goals over the two legs that saw Portugal make it to the finals, coupled with the muscle injury that would keep Messi out for the rest of the year, almost certainly sealed the deal.

Never in the history of the award has there been more talk and speculation on the street about who should win it and why, which is probably - with all due respect to Ribery - an acknowledgement by lovers of football throughout the world that in Messi and Ronaldo we are probably seeing the two greatest players in the history of the game (and perhaps a reflection on society too -where the individual still gains more consideration than the team effort).Messi, despite being injured for the last couple of months of the year, took Barcelona to another La Liga title in 2013 and the Spanish Super Cup, scoring 45 goals in 46 appearances for club and country along the way.

Ronaldo scored a staggering 69 goals in 60 games for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013 and was certainly the main difference in the two World Cup play-off ties.

Now with this monkey off his back he can concentrate on winning proper trophies like cups, Champions Leagues and leagues because, in truth, despite his undoubted greatness, his four-and-a-half year tenure at Real Madrid has seen him earn just one La Liga, one Copa del Rey and one Spanish Super Cup.

Congratulations Ronaldo, you deserve it. It is a privilege to see you weekly in our league.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Gary Neville

Neville - Step back for City

Gary Neville says Manchester City must learn to see games out if they are to win the Champions League....

Ed Chamberlin

Ed: City can make statement

Ed Chamberlin can't wait for Man City-Chelsea on Super Sunday and gives his early Ryder Cup tips....

Jamie Redknapp

Redknapp: No need to worry

Jamie Redknapp isn't concerned after the English clubs made their worst ever Champions League start....

Latest News RSS feeds

Neville - Step back for City

Gary Neville says Manchester City must learn to see games out if they are to win the Champions League.

Costa concern for Chelsea

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says Diego Costa is not yet ready to start more than one match in a week.

Live transfer updates

Arsenal linked with Iker Casillas, while Chelsea and Liverpool said to be keen on Bayer Leverskusen's Julian Brandt.

Wenger: I missed out on Ronaldo

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his biggest regret is missing out on signing Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Solskjaer leaves Cardiff

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has left Cardiff City by mutual consent after nine months in charge.

Features

Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa were Atletico Madrid team-mates but their routes to the top have been so different

Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa were Atletico Madrid team-mates but their routes to the top have been so different

With 64 goals between them last season, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa are two of the game’s best strikers. Born just three months apart on opposite sides of the Argentina-Brazil border, they were even team-mates at Atletico Madrid. But the pair have taken very different routes to the top.

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Champions League: Yaya Toure off the pace as Manchester City succumb to late goal against Bayern Munich

Vincent Kompany said earlier this week that Yaya Toure was "not far off" signing a new Manchester City deal; that's considerably closer than he got to any Bayern Munich midfielder on Wednesday night.

Who is the real Ronald Koeman? Former team-mate Rob McDonald shares his memories of the Southampton boss

Who is the real Ronald Koeman? Former team-mate Rob McDonald shares his memories of the Southampton boss

Not many Englishmen know Dutch football better than Rob McDonald. The former Newcastle United striker spent the best part of eight years in the country as a player, winning the Eredivisie title during his time in Eindhoven with a PSV team that included the genius of Ruud Gullit.