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Monday, 5 December 2011

Who will win the Ballon D'or 2011?

FIFA today announced the shortlist for the Ballon D'or contenders (or for those of you who aren't very nifty with foreign lingo, it is basically the world footballer of the year - the golden ball). Only three candidates make the shortlist, and it was those usual suspects; Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Xavi. So, let's analyse which each candidate has done throughout the calendar year.

Cristiano Ronaldo:

Ronaldo has certainly started this season fantastically well, 17 goals in 14 appearances pretty much says it all (a ratio of 1.2 goals a game) with six assists along the way. Add to that four goals during the Champions’ League group stages, it certainly makes impressive reading. Throughout the year of 2011, he has scored seven goals for his home country and lead them to qualify for the Euro 2012 via the play offs, scoring twice during a 6-2 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina. He ended the season top scorer in La Liga, ahead of arch nemesis Lionel Messi, and also picked up his first piece of silverware with the Copa Del Rey trophy, in which he scored the winning goal against Messi's Barcelona side. Overall, Cristiano has had a marvellous year by the standards of anyone.

Lionel Messi:

The 5'7 Argentinian started the season in the same spectacular fashion as his Spanish challenger, scoring and assisting the exact amount of goals as Cristiano, but playing one game more. During the first cup game of the season (the Spanish Supercup final, the equivalent of the Community Shield) he scored three and assisted two in a 5-4 win against Real Madrid. He then went on to score back to back home hat tricks during the opening weeks of the season. In the first half of the season, he helped Barcelona win the Champions League, scoring and assisting in the final against Manchester United, which proved to be a comfortable victory in the end. Internationally, he has scored four times and assisted ten during the calendar year, in which he made 13 appearances for La Albiceleste.


As you can imagine, Xavi doesn't have the goal-scoring record to match his two rivals, but what he lacks in regular goals, he certainly makes up for in work-rate, passing and general dictating of the game. During 2011, he has helped Barcelona win the Champions League, La Liga, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish Supercup. In January, he became the most capped Barcelona player ever with his 549th appearance against Levente, while also winning his 100th cap for Spain two months later. For Spain, he has made ten appearances, scoring twice, and also eased the Spanish team to Euro 2012 qualification. Last season, he was vital to all of Barca's attacks, and made 1165 passes throughout the entire season, whilst this season, he has chipped in with five assists to help his team, as well as four goals.

However, my pick for the world's best footballer has to go to Lionel Messi. He edges ahead of due to his 2011 silverware and head to head statistics against the Spanish winger. The winner is set to be announced on January 9th 2012, it's going to be a close one!

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