Wednesday 7 November 2012

Why Lionel Messi Deserves 2012 FIFA Ballon D'Or

All things being equal (if this is actually possible) between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in 2012, there is one telling difference between these two magnificent players. 

The following incident is representative of the type of player Messi is, and shows his attitude towards playing the beautiful game in the right way. It occurred during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Celta Vigo on Saturday 3 November 2012. The match finished 3—1.

In the 38' Barcelona are leading 2—1. From a Barcelona long-ball clearance, Lionel Messi (#10) manages to put pressure on the second-last defender (blue #2). The defender subsequently failed to control the ball and then made a poor backpass, gifting Messi with an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Here are the freeze frames:

 Although Messi is fouled, he continues to play and breaks free to set up an obvious goal-scoring opportunity 

After 12 long seconds, the Referee finally comes into camera shot

Finally, after 20 seconds the one-man attack that is Lionel Messi is broken up ... as he is enveloped by 6 opponents

Celta Vigo's #2 was fortunate not to be sent off because Messi continued playing (and did not fall over easily). The #2 was also fortunate not to be cautioned by the Referee for his unsporting behaviour (probably because the Referee was so far behind play that he did not realise how serious the situation was). This also depends on what the AR communicated to the Referee. 

In similar situations, it is likely that Ronaldo would fall down easily, draw the free kick (or penalty), react with some theatre by complaining about being fouled, draw the red card for his opponent, and then take the free kick (or penalty). Is this the 'right' way to play the game?

As we have seen numerous times, Messi prefers to ride the challenges that come his way and just get on with playing. 


2012 was yet another glorious year for the irrepressible Cristiano Ronaldo. With Portugal, he scored twice against the Netherlands and another against the Czech Republic to propel his side to the semi-finals of EURO 2012, while with Real Madrid, he won La Liga – scoring 46 goals along the way – and played a key role in their run to the Champions League semi-finals, where he scored twice in the second leg against Bayern Munich. Winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2008, he has again started this season as he means to go on, scoring the winner against Manchester City in the Champions League before claiming a hat-trick against Ajax. In domestic action, he also scored twice against Barcelona to become the first man to score at least one goal in six consecutive clásicos.


Even though Barcelona did not lift a major trophy in 2012 – the Copa del Rey aside – Lionel Messi continued to go from strength to strength, amassing goals and records along the way. His achievements in 2012 included becoming Barça’s all-time leading goalscorer in official matches when he scored his 233rd goal on 20 March, breaking the record for the number of UEFA Champions League goals in a single season (14) and, with his 72 goals in all competitions, he came close to breaking the record held by the legendary Pelé (75 goals). The three-time Ballon d’Or winner was no less impressive for Argentina either, helping them dominate the South American FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

If national coaches, captains and selected journalists (these are the ones who will be casting votes) cannot decide between the two best players of 2012 in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, then maybe they should consider the attitude of these players toward playing the beautiful game. In this light, the 25-year-old Argentinian deserves the FIFA Ballon D'Or for the fourth time. The result will be announced on 7 January 2013.

NOTE: There is an excellent Referee anecdote called "A Mix-up With Maradona" in Bob Evans' and Ed Bellion's book The Art of Refereeing, which is related to how the great Maradona (and now Messi) dealt with being fouled all the time.  


No comments:

Post a Comment