World Player of the Year battle heats up
Published: 17.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
The title of World Player of the Year for 2012 is starting to get serious. Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the predictable front runners.
They demonstrated why in the Clasico last week at the Nou Camp, netting twice apiece. Yet there is a sense that the battle between the two is getting just a bit tiresome.
Yes, Messi has scored more goals in one season than any man since Gerd Mueller, netting 73 last time around. Yes, Ronaldo’s own ridiculous stats, which see him now with 160 goals in 155 games for Real, have let Madrid to the La Liga title.
But there are others, who perhaps will get the recognition denied them by these two superstars of galactic proportions. Chief among them may be members of the Spanish national team, in particular Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Iniesta was brilliant as Spain won Euro 2012, becoming the first team since Uruguay in the 1920s to win three major tournaments in a row. Surely that deserves recognition through the awards? The obvious duo are the Barcelona midfielders, with Iniesta already crowned as Europe’s best player for the tournament by UEFA, as well as being given the European player of the year award in August.
Xavi, though, continues to be the brilliant brain at the heart of all that is good about Spain and Barcelona. His prompting and probing, and ability to retain possession, is pivotal to the continued domination of the Spanish national team and it would be a travesty if the key player for one of the greatest, if not the best, team that ever played the game does not win the Ballon D’Or once in his career.
But then, what about the man who was top scorer at the Euros, and as well as winning the competition with Spain, also lifted the Champions League with Chelsea. Step forward Fernando Torres. No, maybe not.
So statistics can mislead. But there are others, too, with worthy cases. Falcao has emerged as one of the world’s best players this year. He was inspired as Atletico Madrid brushed aside Athletic Bilbao for the Europa League. Sure, it was only the Europa League but he turned in a world class performance to earn the Spaniards the title. He was similarly destructive against the European champions Chelsea in August, ripping their defence to shreds. Also prolific and deadly for Colombia, and firing Atletico Madrid to joint top of the Spanish league at presence, the fact that he has also kept pace with Ronaldo and Messi in the Spanish scoring charts is remarkable. He may not keep it up, but if he can do so at least until December, surely he is worthy of recognition?
The other key man who deserves to be considered for the Ballon D’Or is Andrea Pirlo. Pirlo has been magnificent, guiding Juventus through the Serie A season unbeaten after moving from AC Milan. His passing from deep was wonderful to watch all season and given how Juventus dominated their domestic league, that surely puts him in contention. Throw in his role at Euro 2012, guiding Italy to the final and dominating proceedings against a number of opponents, and Pirlo is another with a worthy claim to the prize this year.
It is quite a list of candidates, all of whom would be worthy winners. But for once, please, can we have someone who is not Messi or Ronaldo?