The world’s greatest game -el Clasico- is coming up and so is the award season. France Football and FIFA have merged their awards (the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Footballer of the Year) to reward the most outstanding player of the year with the inaugural FIFA Ballon d’Or trophy.
But unlike in previous seasons, neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo will finish among the top three contenders. From 2007 onwards those two managed appear in the top three of either award ceremony.
This year’s favorites to win the (now single) award, Spanish World Champions Xavi and Andres Iniesta as well as Inter’s treble winner Wesley Sneijder. The latter seems to be the odds-on favorite to win the first ever FIFA Ballon d’Or, having led Inter to an historic treble and the Dutch national team to the World Cup final.
Nonetheless, it is a World Cup year and judging by past recipients it’s more than likely the award will be handed to a Spanish player. While Sneijder accomplished the treble with Inter, he hardly covered new ground, Xavi and Iniesta did it a year earlier. Not to say that accomplishing the treble is an easy feat, far from it, but winning the World Cup is even more prestigious. After all, the tournament is only held every four years.
In any case, Messi and Ronaldo will probably not appear among the top three nominees. But that hasn’t stopped the pair from starting the 2010/2011 campaign in spectacular fashion.
La Pulga (Lionel Messi) has scored a ridiculous 19 goals in just 16 appearances (all competitions) and created another seven goals for his teammates.
CR7’s statistics are impressive as well; he scored 15 goals in 19 appearances and assisted a further eight goals.
But even off the pitch their "rivalry" is remarkable. Being recognized as two of the world’s premier footballers; it is only natural that they lend their image and name for product endorsements such as Pepsi, the Pro Evolution or FIFA series amongst others.
Needless to say, the annual earnings of those two are off the charts with Messi having a slight advantage over Ronaldo.
And speaking of endorsements, it seems Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were destined to be rivals. Not only do they play for FC Barcelona and the team from the Spanish capital, that have one of the most intense rivalries in club football, they also wear boots from rival companies Adidas & Nike who share a somewhat different kind of rivalry themselves.
It appears as if La Pulga and CR7 are competing in every area, and considering the fact that both are relatively young (Messi is 23, Ronaldo is 25) there’s no end in sight. Under the right circumstances and provided they stay injury-free, this could very well become the greatest rivalry in football of all-time.
In case you also want to read Part I here’s the link.