In an age where individual brilliance on the football field usually trumps team success when it comes to attracting the media glare, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to accumulate astonishing achievements that fill Portuguese people all over the world with a sense of pride.
The Madeira-born superstar reached the pinnacle of popularity among his compatriots one year ago as he helped Portugal lift the 2016 European Championship, the nation’s maiden trophy at a major tournament.
Along with club success at Real Madrid, as he led the club to a Champions League triumph and victory in the World Club Cup, it came as no surprise when Ronaldo was awarded his fourth Ballon D’Or. The Seleção captain himself admitted: “2016 is the best year of my career at individual and collective level.”
Those in Portugal keen on online betting will be well advised to have a punt on Ronaldo making it number five in 2017, thus equalling Lionel Messi’s haul of the most coveted individual award in football.
As last year’s vote clearly demonstrated, team trophies won by the Ballon D’Or nominees carry a lot of weight when it comes to the final classification. The final count for the 2016 award showed that Ronaldo obtained 745 points in the voting system, more than double that of his eternal rival for the crown of the world's best player, Messi, who received 316 points.
Therefore, Ronaldo is extremely well placed to win the 2017 gong – which would make it a barely believable four Ballon D’Or awards in five years – when one considers that he captained Real Madrid to the Spanish title and Champions League double.
The latter conquest is especially significant given that it was the first time any team had retained the biggest prize in club football in the modern era, and Ronaldo was unstoppable at the business end of the tournament. The 32-year-old scored 10 goals in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final to beat Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid and Juventus respectively.
Although Ronaldo failed to hit the 50-goal mark for Real Madrid in a single season for the first time since his debut campaign in Spain in 2009-10, scoring “only” 42 times for the Merengues, it can be argued he was more important than ever to his club side. Without those ten goals in the final rounds of the Champions League, would Real Madrid have won the trophy?
While Ronaldo is already the hot favourite to win the 2017 Ballon D’Or, further success at the Confederations Cup will surely seal it. Going into the semi-finals against Chile, Ronaldo is joint top scorer in the competition. Should he lead Portugal to a second successive tournament victory, another consecration as the world’s best player will surely be a mere formality.