Messi, Ronaldo or Ribery: Who truly deserves the 2014 Ballon d'Or?
All three have the undeniable talent to win, but have their performances and achievements granted them the right to the trophy?
Messi, who has a chance to retain his title for the 5th consecutive time, had his first real series of injuries during 2013. A hamstring problem denied him a great deal of appearances over the course of the season in particularly the tail end. This still didn't stop him breaking a few records however, one of which was over-taking Teodor Pewterek's tally of scoring in 16 consecutive league games by netting 19.
His injury, along with Barcelona enduring a not particularly successful season in getting knocked out in both semi-finals of the Champions League and Copa del Rey (the former saw them capitulate against eventually winners Bayern Munich and the latter to arch-rivals Real Madrid) makes a case that he perhaps shouldn't win back the crown this year.
You then have Ronaldo. While the latter part of 2013 put him on a pedestal to win his first Ballon d'Or since 2008, the early part was rather hit and miss. A two-legged Champions League tie against old club Manchester United in which he scored in both games (one of which booted the Red Devils out of the competition) was possibly the only high point of the second half of the 12/13 season for him. A red card in the Copa del Rey final loss against local rivals Athletico Madrid, finishing runner-up in La Liga to Barcelona and being denied an aforementioned Champions League final spot by Borussia Dortmund proved to be a season to forget for the Portuguese captain.
The start of the 2013/14 season however has propelled Ronaldo into the limelight to win his second trophy in the competition. A hat-trick against Galatasaray in the Champions League group stage as well as single-handedly putting Portugal through to the World Cup finals after a two-legged qualification play-off against Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden have boosted him up to favourite for 2014.
Franck Ribery is the last major contender for the trophy, having won almost every personal award there is after his scintillating season with Bayern Munich. In a year which the Bavarians came out on top in every competition, Ribery was an integral part of Bayern's success and along with the fact that at the climax of it all the man in charge of driving them to glory, Jupp Heynckes, was to retire, made it fairy tale ending that would give Disney a run for their money.
But do these three contenders really deserve to be in the top three? Take Arjen Robben for example. After painfully missing a penalty that would surely have won them the Champions League the previous year in their home stadium, he rose from the ashes to score the winning goal in the final against rivals Dortmund with just minutes to go. Like Ribery he too was an important part of the team that dominated each competition they took part in that season.
If you take Messi's year into context does he really deserve to be one of the top potential winners? A huge chunk of his season was missed through injury and in that time other players where showing their prowess. Robin Van Persie was a great success in his debut season at Manchester United winning his first Premier League Trophy and finishing as top scorer.
Although He didn't win any trophies Gareth Bale was the star man for Tottenham Hotspurs earning him a world-record transfer to Real Madrid.
Thibaut Courtois finshed the 12/13 season with the most cleansheets and won the Copa del Rey with Athletico Madrid at the Bernabe.
With that being said, it officially comes down to Argentina, Portugal or France, but should someone else have taken the Argentine's place?
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