Yet again a left-footed quick player is threatening Ronaldo’s Golden Ball aspirations this year.
The race for the most coveted title, The Ballon d’Or has been a two-horse race between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the last decade. These two have been winning the coveted proze back and forth ever since 2008 and that’s a huge feat in itself. The closest anyone has come to these two was in the year 2014 when Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer finished a close third place with 15.72% of the votes, which was only 0.04% lesser than the votes Messi had garnered. This year though, the writings on the wall seemed to indicate the same story as always. It’s going to be the same two-horse race, but it’s not going to be between Ronaldo and Messi, instead, it’s going to be between the Real Madrid man and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
The two have had spectacular seasons at their respective clubs. The performances of these two coupled with their respective teams having propelled themselves to the UEFA Champions League final, means they are well and truly ahead of the rest of the field. Ronaldo did not start the season particularly well.
Until Christmas, he had the scoring record of a quintessential 33-year-old. He had amassed a poor tally of just four goals in the league. Enter 2018 and Ronaldo seemed to have woken up from his short slumber to produce some unbelievable numbers. He’s scored a total of 24 goals in the league and has picked up five assists as well.
His performance in the Champions League was record-breaking ever since the beginning of Real’s campaign as he smashed the all-time goalscoring record and also became the first player to score nine goals in six games, in the group stage. In total, Real’s talisman has 42 goals and eight assists in 41 games in all competitions this season.
Ronaldo has truly made the Champions League his competition. His performances in Europe have been exemplary, to say the least. He’s scored 15 goals and has assisted three times in the 12 games so far.
Ronaldo has won four of the last five Ballon d’Ors
Ronaldo’s performance in the CL tie against PSG was nothing short of world class and right when people thought Real were looking vulnerable, Cristiano struck them with a hammer blow and sent the Parisians packing. He has made a strong stand for winning the Ballon d’Or and with the World Cup coming up, the Portuguese will look to carry over this red-hot form for his country. If he manages a strong showing in Russia and if Madrid seal the Champions League title for a third time in a row, there is little anyone can do to stop Ronaldo from lifting the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time and for the third time in a row.
If there is someone who can stop Ronaldo and Real Madrid winning the Ballon d’Or and Champions League title, it is none other than the Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah. If there was ever a player who fits a manager’s profile, it has to be Mo Salah. Jurgen Klopp’s philosophy call’s for wingers with blistering pace and Salah has got tons of it. Ever since the first game in the Premier League against Watford, he’s been very consistent for the Reds.
He’s totalled 31 goals in the Premier League and has picked up 10 assists to go with it. In the Champions League, Salah has scored an impressive 10 goals and has assisted his teammates five times, having a hand in 58 goals (43 goals and 15 assists) in this season for the Reds. Liverpool have been the dark-horses ever since they beat Hoffenheim in the CL playoffs.
The match that really turned their season around was the 7-0 romp over Maribor which showed the entire world that the Reds were not just messing about in the world’s biggest club competition and a 5-1 victory over Manchester City over two legs not only confirmed their semi-finals spot, but also announced that they had arrived. The tournament missed Liverpool just as much as Liverpool missed the Champions League and without the contributions of the dynamic front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Salah, the club would not be in the final of the Champions League.
Salah has scored 43 and assisted 15 in just 49 games so far
Salah, just like Ronaldo, has a strong claim to the Ballon d’Or if the Reds manage to claw through Los Blancos to claim the title. With a Champions League winner’s medal around the King’s neck and with a good showing at the World Cup, Salah could very well claim the Ballon d’Or over Ronaldo.
This year’s Ballon d’Or is firmly between Salah and Cristiano and it all boils down to one huge final in Kiev. Will it be Salah’s unforgiving pace and quick feet or Ronaldo’s intelligence and unpredictability? The two are neck and neck in the standings and it is fair to say that even if there is only going to be one winner, at the end of the day, the two have lit up the footballing calendar all season and have been an absolute treat to watch.