Cristiano Ronaldo recently hinted that Lionel Messi didn't deserve the Golden Ball for the Best Player at the World Cup in Brazil. Given the massive interest in the story, I thought we should try to un-wriggle Ronaldo’s statement a bit..
The Portuguese has just won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, one of the few prizes where he could easily step out of Messi’s shadow because his biggest competitor wasn’t on the final shortlist.
You would expect Ronaldo to thrive on this award and forget about his rivalry with the Argentine for a while. But Ronaldo took his spotlight to lash out at Messi, indirectly stating he didn’t deserve to win the Golden Ball.
Even though Ronaldo tried to phrase it nicely, saying: “I cannot be honest about it. If I said everything that I think, I would be in prison,” his timing, two months after the World Cup, seems weird.
I also want to mention Ronaldo himself had a disappointing World Cup and, in fact, he shouldn’t have risked his career by playing injured. The price for doing so, he is paying right now as he again struggles with light injury problems.
Messi, meanwhile, had a great group stage. I remember, he struggled in the first game against Bosnia and Herzegovina but then silenced his critics with a run past a couple of defenders and scoring Argentina’s 2-0. He then scored the Albiceleste’s only goal in a flattering 1-0 last minute victory over Iran. In the final group match, he scored two goals – one coming from a brilliant free-kick – in a 3-2 win over Nigeria, which was probably his best performance in Brazil.
However, the Argentine failed to score any further goal. Yes, he assisted Argentina’s extra-time winner against Switzerland in the Round of 16 and also converted his penalty in the shout-out against the Netherlands in the semi-final, but he wasn’t his usual self in most of the knockout-stage games.
In fact, Messi looked tired and fatigued and it didn’t surprise me to read comments by his father stating ‘La Pulga’ is exhausted and “feels like his legs weigh 100 kilos each.”
When I think of Messi, I think of this little magician taking on five or more defenders and then elegantly lobbing the ball over the keeper. I think of a player who can influence the games against the world’s best teams, not only in the group stages where Argentina had one of the easier groups.
But nothing like this in the quarter- and semi-final, even less in the World Cup final. The game against Germany was the biggest in his career, but he went missing and also wasted a chance which he usually slots in with closed eyes. That’s the difference to Diego Maradona and Pele, whom he is supposed to emulate, they stepped up when their countries needed them the most.
Do you think Lionel Messi was the best player at the World Cup in Brazil? Have your say in the comment section below.