StoryFour down and on the hunt for five - Will Ronaldo Catch Messi?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Cristiano Ronaldo will go down in history as one of the best footballers to grace the field. The Portugal star recently claimed a fourth Ballon d’Or award after an incredible year that included a Champions League crown, a European Championship success and a World Club title – and he now sits just one World Player of the Year accolade behind Barcelona star and arch-rival Lionel Messi.

At 31 years old, Ronaldo’s time to claim the Ballon d’Or is running out but he is still capable of holding his own against the greatest players on the planet; as shown by his achievements this year.
While you could viably argue that Ronaldo was helped by Real Madrid’s success in the Champions League and Portugal’s triumph at Euro 2016 but at the end of the day, his influence in both competitions was clear for all to see and he certainly deserved to prosper on an individual basis.

Statistically, the Portugal star’s figures have declined recently but he is still performing at an elite level – and that is testament to his work in the gym and on the training ground.

Messi is extremely talented but Ronaldo has worked incredibly hard since his early tenure at Old Trafford to blossom into one of the best players in the business. At international level, the Portuguese eclipsed Eusebio at the top of the goal scoring charts on his way to captaining his side to victory in France this summer. Comparatively, Messi has yet to win a national competition with Argentina...

Incredibly, Ronaldo and Messi have both scored EXACTLY the same number of La Liga goals since 2009. The Portuguese star has netted his 270 goals in 247 games whilst rival Messi has needed 252 fixtures to build his tally; however, the Barcelona man has played 12 minutes longer than Ronaldo.

Both players will be recognised in the Spanish annals but Ronaldo now has the opportunity to draw level with Messi on individual awards. Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the accolade for the most part of the last decade and while you could make a plausible case for Luis Suarez, Neymar or Gareth Bale, both men will compete for the Ballon d’Or once again.

As of December 20th 2016, Ronaldo’s Madrid are on top in the La Liga title race and plenty of punters will be backing the Portuguese to get the better of his Argentinian rival once again in the near future.

At the time of writing, bet365 are offering 4/9 for Madrid to lift the crown in May and Ronaldo will be very influential if Real are to beat their closest rivals to the title. He has bagged 23 goals in just 22 appearances in all competitions this season and the Madrid captain is still a key part of Zinedine Zidane’s long term plan; although Gareth Bale could be the main man at the Santiago Bernabeu in the future.

Ronaldo is now just one behind five-time winner Messi and the Portugal star will be quietly confident of individual success next year. 2016 was a brilliant year for Cristiano Ronaldo and his supporters but 2017 could be even better...