Result: Cristiano Ronaldo Won the Ballon d’Or 2013!
If Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi weren’t so excellent at football, you’d be tempted to call the Ballon d’Or award boring.
The pair’s domination of the sport in recent years has turned the race for Fifa’s golden ball into a straight shoot-out, which has been won by Lionel Messi for the past three years.
This year Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite, but in Franck Ribérythe game’s two leading lights have their most worthy competitor for many years.
How do the statistics from 2013 compare for all three? Let’s have a look…
|Minutes on pitch||3346||4542||4018|
Watch all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and assists in 2013:
The usually ever-present Lionel Messi suffered a couple of rare injuries this year, limiting his minutes and appearances. Forty-five games is still a laudable total, but well behind Ribéry’s 52, which featured runs to the final of the Champions League and German Cup as well as appearances in the European Super and Club World Cups. His five trophies give him a clear edge, but while Ronaldo ended the year without silverware his triumphant performance to secure World Cup qualification for Portugal in a play-off against Sweden. Just 14 defeats out of 153 combined games illustrate the collective might of all three on the shortlist.
Franck Ribery celebrates with the Champions League trophy (GETTY IMAGES)
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|Shots off target||59||136||36|
The goals scored figures continue to astound for both La Liga players. Messi’s 42 is an outrageous return of just less than a goal per game, but even that is eclipsed by Ronaldo’s absurd 66 goals from 56 appearances. But Ronaldo’s goal tally came from a total of 396 shots. Messi scored 14 fewer but did so from only 146 attempts on goal, which were more than 5 per cent more accurate than his rival. Ribéry, a player whose main strengths are in other areas, trails both by a significant margin with a still-creditable 22 goals, but he does bost more accurate shooting than the two that play in Spain.
Watch all of Lionel Messi’s goals in 2013:
The purist’s choice for the award could be Franck Ribéry, who has contributed three more assists for Bayern Munich than either of his rivals for the prize. His chance creation stats also stand out, as does his pass completion rate despite passing far more times than either Messi or Ronaldo. The latter plays in a more direct system than Barcelona or Bayern’s, so his lower total pass count does not surprise, but a failure to complete more than 20 per cent of his passes does not reflect too kindly on the Portuguese.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s passing stats put him third behind Messi and Ribéry (AP)
While Ribéry tends to play wide on the left for Bayern Munich, it is something of a surprise to learn that he attempted almost four times as many dribbles as Messi and Ronaldo in 2013. The Frenchman also engages with opposition players more frequently, taking part in 943 one-on-one battles for the ball compared to Ronaldo’s 709 and Messi’s 579. Ribéry’s more frequent forays with the ball
Watch some of Franck Ribery’s best moments from 2013:
As more advanced players, Messi and Ronaldo predictably contribute less to their teams defensive efforts than Ribéry, but Ronaldo cleared the ball 38 times in 2013, presumably due to often being stationed in crucial areas when Real Madrid were defending corners. Ronaldo has also fouled more than his competitors for the award, and was the only player of the three to receive a red card in 2013.
Lionel Messi with the golden shoe awarded to the European top scorer (AP)
What have we learned? That we are living in an era of exceptional football. Franck Ribéry, thought of as an in a distant second tier of the best footballers compared to Messi and Ronaldo, won five trophies and contributed a combined total of 30 goals and assists in 2013.