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:

Paul Merson

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson tips Sunday wins for Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool - but not Arsenal or Tottenham....

Phil Thompson

Ultimate #One2Eleven

Find out who did – and who didn't – make the Soccer Saturday experts' best-ever Premier League XI....

Latest News RSS feeds

Torres a step closer to home

Fernando Torres will join Milan permanently on January 5 ahead of his expected return to Atletico Madrid.

Warnock sacked by Palace

Neil Warnock has been sacked as manager of Crystal Palace, with Keith Millen placed in charge for Sunday's trip to QPR.

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson tips Sunday wins for Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool - but not Arsenal or Tottenham.

Ten Premier League questions

Can Man City beat Burnley and make it 10 wins on the bounce? We look at the talking points on the Premier League agenda.

Ronaldo snubbed Birmingham

David Sullivan told Soccer AM he was offered Cristiano Ronaldo for £6million when he was Birmingham City owner.

Features

Premier League: A look at the factors that have led to Neil Warnock's sacking as manager of Crystal Palace

Premier League: A look at the factors that have led to Neil Warnock's sacking as manager of Crystal Palace

Adam Bate looks at the factors that have led to Neil Warnock becoming the first Premier League manager to lose his job so far this season following his departure from Crystal Palace…

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse is the Premier League's deadliest goalscorer so far this season

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse is the Premier League's deadliest goalscorer so far this season

Papiss Cisse hasn't been getting too much time on the pitch for Newcastle but the statistics show he's the Premier League's deadliest goalscorer, writes Adam Bate...

Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey returns to Anfield to take on former club Liverpool on Monday Night Football

Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey returns to Anfield to take on former club Liverpool on Monday Night Football

Jonjo Shelvey returns to Anfield still looking to fulfil his huge potential, writes Adam Bate.