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Should Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi to Balon D'Or, asks Guillem Balague, after looking at stats?

Should Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi to Balon D'Or, asks Guillem Balague, after looking at stats?

I asked my colleague at Revista de la Liga and the Spanish football coverage, the statistician and excellent goalkeeper James Wheeler, to put in stats a feeling I've had for few months now.

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Comments (66)

Dylan Botha (Arsenal fan) says...

As a person hoping Ronaldo triumphs over Messi for this award, I was very underwhelmed by the strength of the arguments posed. In truth very few "stats" make it into this article. Great headline, yet feel the cherrypicked stats leave you feeling the exact opposite is true. And I believe its contradcitory to say Barca is set up to get the ball to Messi at all times but that Ronaldo is a bigger loss to his team when absent than vice versa.

Posted 03:37 5th December 2012

Nick Wightwick (Arsenal fan) says...

As much as I agree with you normally Guillem I think that here you are wrong. The reasons for giving Messi the award are alot clearer than Ronaldo, you've had to dig very deep to try and find reasons for Ronaldo to win. Cristiano is a wonderful player and an absolute genius but I still feel that this year (and in general) Messi just shades it in my opinion.

Posted 23:29 4th December 2012

Michael Brennan (Birmingham City fan) says...

Good stats, although it is quite telling that you have left out the shots/goals ratio which is heavily in Messis favour. As for the touches it would be interesting to see in which areas of the pitch they are/were as Messi tends to drop deep against certain styles, for example Chelseas. The touches are also easily explained by the contrasting styles of the teams, Barca dominate possession whilst Madrid look to counter with the pace of their forwards, mainly Ronaldo. It would be interesting to see how successful Messi would be given the space afforded to Ronaldo and how Ronaldo would cope at being crowded out by the opposition, I doubt there would be an increase in output from the Portugese. Great column by the way.

Posted 23:00 4th December 2012

Junior Jav (Manchester United fan) says...

This is what I have been try'na tell people for ages! I totally agree, and lets not forget the Euro's where Ronaldo finished joint top scorer, and only lost on penalties to the greatest international side ever.. Ronaldo's Portugal gave Spain the most toughest, competitive game throughout the entire tournament.

Posted 22:36 4th December 2012

Eddie Pearce (Fiorentina fan) says...

i don't agree with this article at all.. All the comments i have read from famous people dealing with football say that considering individual talent messi is above all (huge gap). This award is about individuals not teams. So be it. Messi is Messia of football. If it is about teams than Spain should be honoured (european champions is far more important than la liga).

Posted 22:35 4th December 2012

Tom Bradley (Chelsea fan) says...

Your stats are well researched, and Ronaldo deserves his recognition for what he has contributed to the Game of World football in 2012. Far too many just want to go along with voting for Messi because in the pantomine of Football, Messi is good and Ronaldo potrays the Baddie. But the truth is that Ronaldo Outshone Messi during the year, and when everyone was talking about probably "the best team ever in Barcelona", Ronaldo was the major contributing factor of why Real Madrid beat that So called best team ever - by the highest league points tally. Thanks Ronaldo for all the entertainment in 2012

Posted 22:24 4th December 2012

Jonathan Evans (Liverpool fan) says...

Although a good article it contradicts itself. At the start of the article it claims that the Barca teams current style of play is getting the ball to Messi and that Ronaldo plays in different positions depending on the other players and team they are playing. It then goes on to say that in there retrospective teams Ronaldo is more important than Messi? Also you have failed to highlight the amount of assists and key passes per game or over the season that each player has made during 2012. I'm not saying that Messi's is better but if he has made twice as many assists and three times as many key passes than surely he justifies having twice as many touches. I understand the article is trying to make a case for Ronaldo to win Balon D'or but its using only facts where Ronaldo comes out stronger and not all the relative information.

Posted 20:50 4th December 2012

Lucas England (Manchester United fan) says...

It's actually very easy to explain why Ronaldo is better. For one, let's give a slight edge to Messi for offensive play, which, by the way, is still arguable when compared to Ronaldo. Second, Messi has a way better team, with way better support and only barely edges Ronaldo goal wise. But here it is, defensively Ronaldo destroys Messi, in fact, it's not even remotely close. Has anyone ever (EVER!) seen Messi defend a cross in his own box? No! He's too busy cherry picking up front. Ronaldo often heads away danger, or takes the ball deep and brings it forward out of his own half so much better than Messi that it's not even a contest here. With defense being half the game, enough said. Add that to the discussion and there is no comparison. Ronaldo is a better overall player than Messi every day of the week. FACT!

Posted 20:42 4th December 2012

Joe Salako (Liverpool fan) says...

An example of being the best and not wining the league is RVP, now although Messi didn't win the league, over the course of the year he out performed ronaldo, I mean the award is for the whole year right?, the man is practically setting records every time he steps onto the field, now the award shouldn't go to ronaldo just because you fear he might kill himself if he doesn't win.

Posted 18:58 4th December 2012

Rabin Khadka (Manchester City fan) says...

The fact is Messi is more efficient and productive than Ronaldo in the field .If it was to count by the trophy a player from Chelsea should get the award if not the award should be given who played and showed the best footballing class in 2012 as a whole. Once again Trophies are for team and these kind of awards are for recognizing the class of a player throughout the year.

Posted 16:25 4th December 2012

Michael Mulhall (Arsenal fan) says...

That the fact of the matter is quite simple Messi will break the all time scorer record in a calender year against Benfica. Also IMO they dont even compare Ronaldo is a great great player but Messi is the greatest of all time huge difference. There attitudes are completly different too, Messi is a team player who you barely see moan Ronaldo is the complete opossite that barely celebrates with the team when others score the goals. You will get the odd united and Real fan agree with your article.

Posted 15:43 4th December 2012

Barry Brosnan (Napoli fan) says...

Agree with Charlie (Liverpool fan), while Messi may not have dominated in the big games of other years hes still the more deserving. This should have been an impartial analysis and if you had taken other factors in Messi would triumph. No mention of the fact that Messi is more tightly marked in all games for two reasons , Barca have a slower approach to goal and hes an infinitely better dribbler than Ronaldo. Assists are given to players who provide the last pass but what about the most important pass and this is often the one before, often a role Messi takes on even for his own goals ! Messi is better passer, far less selfish. No mention that Ronaldo wanted to be the one who wanted the glory spot kick for Portugal instead of taking the earlier ones , serves him right for not progressing. Messi is also not the one holding his club to ransom for more wages. For me its Messi every day and twice on Sunday (usually the day Messi gets two goals). God Bless Leo.

Posted 15:33 4th December 2012

Kute Nurahmod (Barcelona fan) says...

Im just going to dive in and get straight to the point. If Ronaldo had managed to inspire Portugal to win the European Championships than in my opinion Ronaldo would of been worthy of best player for 2012. Messi, deserves to win the best player award for 2012 not just because of his goals and RECORDS but what he brings to the beautiful game and the many millions he brings happiness too. Isn't that the reason why people watch football, for the happiness it brings to people. Iniesta should be voted Second (not Ronaldo) because he had inspired Spain to Euro' 2012 success. Ronaldo is a worthy Third best and he has had a great season but in my opinion two other players have had better seasons than him, nothing personal.

Posted 23:41 3rd December 2012

Mat Roc (Saint-Etienne fan) says...

You are forgetting the fact that Ronaldo was surely the best player of Euro 2012, with his performances against both Netherlands and Czech Republic.. He scored 3 goals and got Portugal to the semi-finals where they were only beaten by Spain in the penalty-shootout..

Posted 23:03 3rd December 2012

Valentine Chimeka says...

Rolnado deserved to be the world best owning to fact that he isn't playing the position which Messi plays in his club and he has proved over time thet he can do it any day with different club which messi has not done! Thanks for this discovery piece!

Posted 19:27 3rd December 2012

Perry Sheldrick (Tottenham Hotspur fan) says...

Does it really matter? They are both spectacular footballers in the own right, who provide enormous entertainment value.

Posted 16:17 3rd December 2012

Gavin Flood (Liverpool fan) says...

For me, it's impossible to look beyond Messi. The fact that you have to dig into facts like 'Who scored more in the El Classicos' and 'Who scored in a semi-final where both teams got knocked out' speaks volumes. The simple facts are that Messi has scored more goals, gotten more assists and is currently ensuring his team go into these awards ceremony with an astonishing 11 point lead over Real Madrid.

Posted 16:06 3rd December 2012

Faisal Riaz (Manchester United fan) says...

Ronaldo deserves it no question. This article just proves it further. Everyone sees the goals Messi scores but they don't factor in that the Barca team is built around him. Even David Villa, one of the best strikers on the planet is unhappy at him hogging the limelight and is benched almost every league game. Messi primarily scores tap-ins and penalties. Ronaldo scores free kicks, tap-ins, penalties, with his left foot, his right foot, his head and scores absolute screamers from near impossible distances. Ronaldo also plays mostly on the left wing where he has to make chances for himself rather than Messi who plays centrally and has the ball fed to him from 3 of the best midfielders on the planet in Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas. Add to that the fact that, as this article highlights, Ronaldo won bigger prizes for his team than Messi did for Barca. Ronaldo also scored more in the head to head games between the two players last season. Ronaldo also carried his team to the European semi-finals with Portugal single handily and finished joint top scorer with Torres. The people that continuously want Messi to win the award are mostly anti United fans who still hate him from his time in England for making their team look like mugs for 6 years. Take away Messi's midfield and watch him crumble. Look at him for Argentina; he is nowhere near the same player because he doesn't have the same level of support. Ronaldo rarely relies on others for chances and his record for both Madrid and Portugal proves that. Ronaldo deserves it based on stats and facts and this article just hammers it home really. Ronaldo is the best footballer on the planet, at least this year. If Messi wants the award again then he should help his team win bigger trophies rather than chase individual accolades as he did for most of 2012.

Posted 15:35 3rd December 2012

Kanaan Ahmed (Barcelona fan) says...

With all respect I think this completely bias and wrong, especially when you said that real Madrid without Ronaldo would struggle more than Barca without Messi and we all know the poor bunch of Barcelona team where Madrid have at least two or more player for each position. secondly, if you want to account on the titles, Iniesta is the favorite player to win the Ballon d'or, he won Spanish cup and the euro cup and he was a key player in this achievements as he has been picked the best player in euro 2012. But Messi stand as the favorite player to win for his astonishing records which you neglect most of them, he has won the best scorer of UEFA champions league for the fourth year in succession with new record of 14 goals per season, he scored fifty goals in Spanish league and twelve goals for Argentina, overall Messi broken four records in 2012 and the fifth is on the road, beside wining cupa del rey

Posted 15:26 3rd December 2012

Mike Knight (Arsenal fan) says...

Firstly, I don't think stats should be used to determine who is the better player. And secondly, what is the point in seeking out stats for a pre-determined conclusion. That is why you only point out things in favour of Ronaldo. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone who watches Real and Barca would see Messi is the superior player. Ronaldo scores good free kicks, but his percentages on free kicks isn't great. He doesnt work the keeper 90% of the time. Messi could play in Ronaldo's position, but Ronaldo could never play in Messi's position. And I don't think for a minute that Madrid would miss Ronaldo more. They have many other players to score goals. Barca simply do not. Villa would be the only other man that could play down the middle, and he would score a fraction of the goals. Oh, and why aren't you taking this season into consideration?

Posted 15:02 3rd December 2012

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