Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) France Football 2016 – The Case for Lionel Messi

Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned winner of the Ballon d’Or 2016 (the fourth of his career) ahead of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. While I congratulate the Portuguese winger for his success, I do not agree with the decision and I would like either a reform of the trophy or simply put, a repeal of it. And there are several reasons why.

Earlier this year, France Football (a French football magazine whom created the trophy and distributed it for decades) and FIFA parted ways with the gala and the trophy, which meant full control of the criterias by the magazine and the hope that we would have more winners and more diversity. Well, it seems like France Football picked up exactly where FIFA left off and awarded the Ballon d’Or to a player who is very good, with great statistics, four trophies won, but ultimately was not the best player in 2016, in my opinion.

I even doubt that he was he second best, even third best (Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez could have been in front of him in 2016). I have ranked Lionel Andrès Messi first because of his complete performance (with club and country) from January 1st to the end date of the voting (November 27th). Goals, assists, chances created, trophies won and runner-up, Messi was, once again, in a league of his own.

While CR7 has been very good as mentioned, created his share of chances and won several important trophies during the year, he was also helped by his teammates while struggling to make an impression on the big stage (UEFA Champions League and European Championship finals) or being absent (UEFA SuperCup). Real Madrid CF won the Champions League final against Atlético Madrid FC on penalties where Ronaldo was invisible the whole game. He eventually dispatched of the winning penalty (only Juanfran from Atlético missed his during the penalty kicks).

Ronaldo didn’t have a great European Championship, missing several scoring chances, missing an important penalty versus Iceland if I recall with his country barely qualifying for the round of 16 in a group where they were largely favourites to win and featuring a mere twenty minutes in the final. His attitude during the whole tournament was unworthy of a “superstar” like him as well. The man of the tournament was French striker Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double (LaLiga BBVA and the Spanish Cup). He was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Atlético de Madrid FC in the UEFA Champions League, but led Argentina to the Copa America Centenario final lost on penalties to Chile for the second year in a row. Messi, having a superb tournament, missed his penalty kick during the shootout session.

In his return to Europe, him and FC Barcelona lifted the Spanish SuperCup versus Sevilla FC, adding a third domestic trophy to his cabinet for the year. His statistics were excellent through the year as you can regularly see in my blog. He outscored, “outassisted” by 16 assists, Cristiano Ronaldo. He created more chances and showed (as usual) more team spirit and more engagement than the Portuguese international.

All this leads me to ask…what is the Ballon d’Or’s purpose? Do we reward the best player of the calendar year? Of the season? Is it a popularity contest? Do we simply attribute the trophy based on winning the FIFA World Cup, Champions League and/or the European Championship despite not being the best player of the tournament or even the team (Nani, Pepe, a Champions League winner as well this year, Ricardo Quaresma, Rui Patricio and others were excellent and clutch during the tournament for La Seleção and let’s not forget Lille player Eder who put the nail in the coffin to clinch the title)?

Last, but not least, it may not be a good idea to hand out a trophy right in the middle of a season. After all, trophies are given at the end generally.

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or France Football) – Week 49

The Ballon d’Or France Football will be awarded tomorrow in annual gala by football magazine France Football who re-gained the rights to the trophy thanks to their disassociation with FIFA earlier this year. The three favourites, not finalists, for the trophy are FC Barcelona/Argentina player Lionel Messi (the holder and record five-time winner), Real Madrid CF/Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo (three-time winner and favourite to win it this year) and Atlético de Madrid FC/French international striker Antoine Griezmann (first-time finalist).

Here are the updated statistics between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo including this weekend’s action which saw La Pulga increase his goal tally by two goals in a win at Osasuna (3-0), while the Portuguese winger was rested by Zinedine Zidane against Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña in a last-minute victory by Los Merengues/Blancos.

L. Messi 61 games 58 goals 32 assists 3 trophies won
– La Liga BBVA
– La Copa del Rey
– Spanish Supercup
C. Ronaldo 55 games 51 goals 17 assists 3 trophies won
– UEFA Champions League
– UEFA European Championship
– UEFA SuperCup
Total Messi 6 games Messi 7 goals Messi 15 assists Tie

The Ballon d’Or France Football will need to be reformed in order to gain more credibility, in my opinion. Lionel Messi should win tomorrow based on many factors that point in his favour, but Cristiano Ronaldo will lift the trophy. And that is the problem with the current format with or without FIFA involved.

Stay tuned…

2016-17 Champions League Group Stage – Wrap-Up

We have the sixteen teams that will face-off next February for the round of 16.

Winner of each group:
Arsenal FC (England)
AS Monaco (France)
Atlético de Madrid FC (Spain)
Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
FC Barcelona (Spain)
Juventus FC (Italy)
Leicester City FC (England)
SSC Napoli (Italy)

Second of each group:

Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Benfica (Portugal)
FC Bayern Munich (Germany)
FC Porto (Portugal)
Manchester City FC (England)
Paris Saint-Germain FC (France)
Real Madrid CF (Spain)
Sevilla FC (Spain)

Four teams from Spain.
Three teams from England and Germany.
Two teams from France, Italy and Portugal.
Sixteen teams in total.

The draw for the next round will take place this week after the UEFA Europa League games. Until then, Real Madrid CF will play the FIFA Club World Cup thanks to their success against Atlético de Madrid FC in the UEFA Champions League last May.

Will Real Madrid CF finally break the curse and become the first club to win back-to-back titles? Can FC Barcelona or FC Bayern Munich win their sixth Champions League title? Or will we have a brand new champion? Can Leicester City FC even do it? The answer in May 2017.

Stay tuned…

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 48

El Clásico is behind us and both teams could not come up as victorious.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring for FC Barcelona while Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid CF captain, scored at the end of the match. Final result: 1-1.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were kept off the scoresheet. While the voting for the next France Football Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball winner has ended officially on November 27th, 2016, we will still keep the calendar year statistics going until the end.

Both superstars’ statistics until today are the following for 2016:

L. Messi 59 games 55 goals 32 assists 3 trophies won
– La Liga BBVA
– La Copa del Rey
– Spanish Supercup
C. Ronaldo 54 games 51 goals 17 assists 3 trophies won
– UEFA Champions League
– UEFA European Championship
– UEFA SuperCup
Total Messi 5 games Messi 4 goals Messi 15 assists Tie

 

El Clásico – FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid CF

Here we go again.

Another El Clásico. Another battle between the two giants of Spanish football. The winners of the last three Champions League will square off for the first time this season with Los Blancos currently holding a six-point lead at the top of la Liga Santander vs. their Catalan arch-rivals. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are available for the match, it does not get any better than this.

While Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona are currently first and second of the Spanish league, it is difficult to say that they have really dominated, this season. We have seen both teams struggle against several opponents and drop some points, especially Los Blaugranas who can not let Zinedine Zidane‘s team get away with the three points today.

Last year, FC Barcelona won at the Santiago Bernabeu, in Madrid, 4-0 in a complete demolition. At the Camp Nou in Barcelona, it was Real Madrid CF who obtained the last word by winning 2-1. At the end, FC Barcelona went on to win the Spanish league and the Spanish Cup while Real Madrid CF lifted the Champions League trophy for the 11th time in their history.

Andrés Iniesta, for the Catalans, will be back in action for this match while the Welsh international, Gareth Bale, is sidelined with an injury for Madrid.

My prediction: FC Barcelona takes it 2-1 and gets closer to their rivals at the top of the table.

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 47

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are still battling (along with French international, Antoine Griezmann and Uruguyan striker, Luis Suarez) for the next Ballon d’Or, while CR7 seems to be the favourite, let’s take a look at the statistics and the trophies won for the calendar year 2016 (Messi still has to play a game today at Real Sociedad):

L. Messi 57 games 54 goals 32 assists 3 trophies won
– La Liga BBVA
– La Copa del Rey
– Spanish Supercup
C. Ronaldo 53 games 51 goals 17 assists 3 trophies won
– UEFA Champions League
– UEFA European Championship
– UEFA SuperCup
Total Messi 4 games Messi 3 goals Messi 15 assists Tie

Lionel Messi – Ballon d’Or 2016 (Golden Ball 2016)

We are as few weeks away before the voting ends and there should be no doubt that Lionel Andres Messi from FC Barcelona should be the clear favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. Here are the numbers (remember that the trophy is judged based on a calendar year, from January 1st to the last day of voting):

Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona, Argentina)
Games – 51
Goals – 49
Assists – 29
Trophies – 3 (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish SuperCup; 1 final – Copa America Centenario)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF, Portugal)
Games – 45
Goals – 41
Assists – 15
Trophies – 3 (UEFA Champions League, UEFA European Championship, UEFA SuperCup).

The difference is simply staggering. Ronaldo may have won the most prestigious trophies this year, but his performances have not been so great. He did not even feature more than 8 minutes in the final against France before being substituted in the 26th minute. His display vs. Atlético de Madrid in the Champions League final was almost invisible despite dispatching of the winning spot kick in the penalty shootout that occurred and he did not even feature in the UEFA SuperCup final won in the last minutes of the game vs. Sevilla FC.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double with his club, was clutch when the moment was needed. Elevated his game in La Copa America Centenario lost on penalties vs. Chili for the second year in a row (and we see currently see the difference when La Pulga plays for La Albiceleste and when he does not). Since the season has begun, despite missing a few games via injuries, he is simply untouchable with goals and assists in plenty. Messi is probably having his best beginning of a season ever.

France Football and FIFA have disassociated themselves, a few weeks ago, from the Ballon d’Or meaning that the French newspaper will dictate its previous formula once again. Will it be enough to see the Messi vs. Ronaldo saga end and another winner coming forward? We shall see. This year, Messi has been the best so far and deserves his sixth Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or.

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