Did the Ballon d’Or go to the wrong guy?
Lionel Messi most definitely is the world’s best footballer.
He will for many fans of football become the best ever, eclipsing Pele and Diego Maradona, if he wins the World Cup with Argentina next year.
But Messi shouldn’t have picked up an unprecedented fourth consecutive world Player of the Year award at a glitzy FIFA gala.
The trophy that Barcelona’s record-setting goal scorer bashfully lifted should instead have gone to Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi’s downcast rival at Real Madrid.
The award’s electorate — journalists and the coaches and captains of national teams — should have tamed their Messi addiction this time.
Not because Ronaldo is a better footballer than Messi. He isn’t. But because he stole away one of Messi’s most important crowns in 2012.
Winning the Spanish league title was a mammoth achievement, precisely because the towering obstacles Ronaldo and his Madrid teammates overcame to do that were Messi and Barcelona, arguably the greatest player and the greatest club team, respectively, that football has ever seen.
With a squad that cost many tens of millions of euros (dollars), Madrid isn’t a mere David to Barcelona’s Goliath.
It is a football colossus in its own right, the sport’s highest-earning club, with always sky-high ambitions and resources that enable it to challenge for trophies year after year.
Nevertheless, it was a giant-killing feat to dethrone a Barcelona team with the most fearsome threesome ever fielded by a football club — Messi and midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.