Cristiano Ronaldo, Ballon d’Or Winner, Not Messi or Ribery

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As expected, Cristiano Ronaldo is the 2013 Ballon d’Or winner, finishing ahead of Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi in the voting for FIFA’s most prestigious individual award, given to him for a fantastic individual season with Real Madrid and Portugal, even though he didn’t win a single team title.

Real Madrid finished second in the La Liga and are currently third; they missed out on the Champions League final once again; they lost in the Copa Del Rey final. But Ronaldo with 69 goals during the calendar year put in the most complete performances from top to bottom.

There’s a chance that if there was no voting delay that allowed late votes to be cast which were affected by Ronaldo’s performance for Portugal in the World Cup qualifying, which included a total of 7 goals, four of them coming in two matches against Sweden in the World Cup playoffs, Franck Ribery would have been the winner.

The French star won five titles with Bayern Munich and helped France make it to the World Cup with five goals in the qualifying group through 2013. He scored 16 league goals in the last 40 league matches for Bayern Munich and was probably the best or most noticeable player for a team that deserved some sort of award for their achievement, but didn’t have one player that stood high above the rest.

Lionel Messi? His streak of four consecutive wins was broken after missing too many matches in the last eight months. He did help Barcelona to another Champions League semifinal and a comfortable league championship while winning another Pichichi (his third) and the La Liga’s best player award for the previous season. His finish to 2013 and especially during the voting period was hurt by his injury, which might have cost him the title.

Ronaldo cried when he accepted the award, helping break the cynicism that involves these lavish ceremonies in an award everyone knew was going to him for the second time (won it in 2008 during its previous incarnation). Maybe he did do more politicking than everyone else, and the whole Blatter incident helped him win the title that was so important for him, but it doesn’t matter. Ronaldo was the best player in the world for 2013, even if he doesn’t have any titles to show for it.