PARIS (Reuters) – Cristiano Ronaldo collected his joint-record fifth Ballon d‘Or on Thursday in Paris in the middle of his worst domestic season for Real Madrid, but with a deserved reputation for delivering on the biggest stage of all and when it matters most.
Despite equaling Lionel Messi in being named the world player of the year for a fifth time, he trails the Barcelona forward in the La Liga scoring charts, on a measly two goals to Messi’s 13 strikes which have helped Barca lead Real by eight points in the standings after 14 games.
Ronaldo has been able to counter criticism for his dire league form by continuing to lead the way in the Champions League, however, topping the scoring charts for a seventh year in a row with nine goals so far this season, also becoming the first player to score in all six group games.
Indeed, he won the award — set up by the magazine France Football in 1956 — for the huge role he played in Real last season becoming the first team to successfully defend the Champions League since AC Milan in 1990.
Ronaldo came into his own in the latter stages of the competition, scoring eight goals against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid to help put Real in the final in Cardiff, where he netted twice in their 4-1 victory over Juventus.
Real also wrestled the La Liga title back from Barcelona last season, with Ronaldo scoring 25 goals along the way, including the first in their title clinching 2-0 win at Malaga.
Ronaldo matching Messi in winning the most coveted individual prize in the game five times will reignite the eternal debate…