Messi & Ronaldo – The Quiet Summer

    Between transfer rumors and speculations, the two biggest names in the world of football and possibly global sports, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are enjoying a rather quiet summer. Focusing only on their clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid, heading into another intriguing season that most likely will revolve around the real or imaginary rivalry between the two.

    So why is it so quiet on the Messi vs Ronaldo front? Real Madrid have been in the news. Transfer rumors and such, mostly revolving around their attempts to pry away Luka Modric from Tottenham. So far, they haven’t signed anyone, with the only additions to the squad being loan returns – David Mateos, Royson Drenthe and Fernando Gago.

    Barcelona, like Real, have been linked to certain players, with the papers and media mostly talking about finding a centre back. They have made one important upgrade to their squad, adding Jordi Alba, fresh off his fantastic Euro 2012 tournament and season with Valencia, while he’ll get ready for the new season with the Spanish Olympic squad.

    But two crown jewels haven’t been mentioned much. Ronaldo had his June experience with Portugal in the Euro, which was bittersweet. Ronaldo did score three goals in the tournament, joint-top scorer, but had a miserable match against Spain in the semifinal (Spain, again) and didn’t take part of the penalty shootout (wanting to kick the final, unnecessary one). Messi, except for an impressive friendly against Brazil and a couple of Messi & friends charity matches has been busy with his girlfriend and getting ready for a new season.

    Who’ll win the Ballon d’Or? Messi had a season unlike any other in the history of the game. Scoring 50 goals in the La Liga, scoring 73 goals in all competitions. Barcelona only came out of the 2011-2012 season with the Copa del Rey, but Messi did the impossible – He kept getting better, better than anyone thought he could be.

    Cristiano Ronaldo? Poor Ronaldo. Scored 60 goals in all competitions and won the La Liga title, but with Ronaldo, it’s always easier to remember the bad things that happened. Missing the penalty kick against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinal. His behavior in the final match against Bilbao after securing the league title.

    The expectations and the pressures are enormous, but Ronaldo lives and thrives through them. There’s no perfect result at the end of the season with Real Madrid so far, perfect being winning everything and being the undisputed best player in the world, but it’s hard to say Ronaldo is disappointing anyone, except maybe his perfectionist self.

    All that’s left are predictions. Easy guess – Barcelona and Real Madrid will be in another two horse race in the La Liga. Messi and Ronaldo will be in another two horse race for the pichichi and European Golden Boot. Champions League? For once, the two might not seems as such clear cut favorites as the seasons begins. Last year, as both teams fell shockingly (well, Real did face Bayern) in the Semi Final, it was already quite hard. New faces, new obstacles, are just going to make it harder on the team level. Individually, it’s still a Messi and Ronaldo game.