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Messi’s Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo’s Best Player Award and the rivalry that just keeps giving

Last night could be a clear case of a rivalry that seems to gather momentum even in its twilight. Ronaldo isn’t backing down just yet.

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Messi VS Ronaldo greatness is an endless debate (Photo by Talksport)

Last night, Argentina and Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi was awarded the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time in his illustrious career. He shrugged off competition from Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Dijk and arch-rival, Cristiano Ronaldo to win the much-coveted award.

However, on a night when Messi won his record-breaking 6th award, Cristiano Ronaldo, the man he left behind at five, managed to steal the show.

First, it was for his gaping absence at the award ceremony held in Paris, France. Notorious for his penchant for shunning awards if he wasn’t at the receiving end (Messi is equally as notorious for this), everyone thought, okay, there he goes again.

But as it turned out, the Italian FA was also having its own award night for Italian football, the Gran Gala del Calcio. And the high point of the night would be Ronaldo’s crowning as the best player in Italy.

So why abandon an award event he would win in favour of one he wouldn’t win? Granted, it doesn’t make any sense.

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So, on the same night, at exactly the same time, two of the world’s best players were receiving best player awards, none backing down for the other, in a classic example of a rivalry we may never hear the last of.

Of course, there is no disputing which of the awards carries more weight and significance. In several quarters, however, there are big debates about who deserves what and why.

It will be difficult to conceive a situation where Messi didn’t win the 2019 Ballon d’Or. He already won the FIFA Best Player Award and the European Golden Shoe awarded to the top scorer across top leagues in Europe.

He was the La Liga top scorer, La Liga assist King, UCL top scorer and has the most Man of the Match awards both in the league and in Europe. While Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk was exceptional in his own rights, it would be hard to overlook Messi in his favour.

Cristiano Ronaldo in Italy is, however, a different ball game. He was beaten to the top scorer’s award by 36-year-old Fabio Quagliarella who plays for a far more inferior team, Sampdoria. Then he was also beaten by Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata and then by Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek. 

In the assist ranking, he was pushed further down into 5th position. Ronaldo didn’t complete the most dribbles because the likes of Sassuolo’s J Boga, Udinese’s de Paul and Fiorentina’s Federico Chiesa beat him there.

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He didn’t complete the most passes because Inter’s Brozovic, Napoli’s Coulibaly and Skriniar beat him to it. He didn’t complete most forward passes, didn’t cross in the most balls, and even though he took the second most free kicks in the league, he didn’t manage to convert any.

He did have the most shots and the most shots on goal, however. And for a football icon, that is probably enough to win the best player in Italy.

Last night could be a clear case of a rivalry that seems to gather momentum even in its twilight. Ronaldo isn’t backing down just yet. But with age clearly not on his side and with Messi still performing wonders like he just got started, you can expect to see more unusual fireworks.

You can follow Ejike on Football Yarns on Facebook or @KanifeKanamuoMachienti for football analysis

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