Lionel Messi has been crowned the best player in the world for a record fourth successive year. He had an amazing year scoring a record 91 goals for club and country in 2012. Feats included 5 goals in one Champions League game and the most goals scored in a Champions League campaign with 14. In La Liga he scored an amazing 50 goals in the 2011/12 season. Quite simply he had a remarkable year and it will be hard to top it. What makes Messi great is that not only he is a fantastic individual, in mp opinion the best to have ever played the game, but he is a great team player. He sets up goals, he hassles and tackles to win the ball back and is the ultimate team player. This is why he has every chance of winning the Balon D’or for a 5th time in 2014, barring injuries of course.
Here I will look at some candidates who may be able to take the title from him next year.
If this award was handed out in August then Cristiano Ronaldo would probably have won this award. Ronaldo had a magnificent season in 2011/12, winning La Liga ahead of Barcelona and scoring 46 goals in the process. He scored the crucial winner against Barcelona at the Nou Kamp which effectively won Real the title. He had a good Euro 2012, helping Portugal to the semi finals.
With all that he still came up short. Ronaldo has not been as effective this season but the year 2013 has just begun. There is no doubting that Ronaldo has the talent to have a superb 2013. La Liga is almost impossible for him to retain in 2013 but he needs to perform at a high level nonetheless to be in the running next year. The Champions League is where he needs to shine. A key game could be how he fares against Manchester United in the Champions League. A big performance and victory over his former club followed by great Champions League performances are what could see Ronaldo lift the Balon D’or next year.
Robin van Persie
The Manchester United striker has been a scoring sensation for the past two years. He is now at a club where he can attain trophies and with fantastic individual performances for one of the biggest club in the world he is showing he belongs in the elite category. If van Persie can maintain or improve upon his performances of the past two years and especially if he can do it in the Champions League then he may have a chance. For him to do so I believe that United would have to go far in the Champions League. He is one of the top goal scorers in the game and is playing at the peak of his powers, if he can maintain it for the year then he gives himself a chance.
As brilliant as Messi is, he is not a one man show at Barcelona. Wayne Rooney said of Iniesta after the 2009 Champions League final that he was the best player in the world. Iniesta has maintained his fantastic form since then and is a key player at Barcelona. In 2012, Iniesta was a key player in Spain’s Euro 2012 success. He was also a driving force in all of Barcelona’s sublime football, despite falling short in La Liga and the Champions League. Iniesta’s best chance may be gone or it may be after possible World Cup success with Spain in 2014 that he wins the 2015 Balon’ D’or but if he performs this year to his usual high standard he will be in consideration again next year.
These are the players who have the best chance of taking the award from Messi. However, I feel Messi can only beat himself. The only way I see him not winning the Balon D’or in 2014 is if he is injured for a large portion of the year or has a major dip in form. The other players will never play at the standard is has set, they can only win it if he drops his standard. He is the best player on the planet and of all time and I do not see him having a bad 2013. I do see him winning a 5th Balon D’or in 2014.