Posted October 05, 2012 on AP on Fox
This time a year ago, the race between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the world player of 2011 award wasn't a race at all, with the Argentine deservedly finishing as the runaway winner. Twelve months on, choosing between these brightest of stars in football's firmament is nigh-on impossible. As with James Bond actors - is Sean Connery or Daniel Craig your favorite? - splitting hairs between Messi and Ronaldo for the 2012 Ballon d'Or will be more a question of personal taste than of science. For me, Ronaldo just edges it - for the simple reason that in 2012 he loosened the stranglehold of brilliance that Messi has at the top of the game. And what, I hear you cry, about Messi's Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta? The stand-out performer in Spain's European Championship-winning team, crowned in August as UEFA Best Player in Europe, of course should be on the shortlist of 23 Ballon d'Or contenders that will be unveiled on Oct. 30. But the midfielder, a...

Ronaldo delighted by treble

Cristiano Ronaldo was pleased to net his first Champions League hat-trick for Real Madrid in Wednesday night's victory over Ajax. Ronaldo struck in the 42nd, 79th and 81st minutes of the 4-1 win in Amsterdam to collect his second treble in four days and 17th in total for Madrid since his world-record ?80million move from Manchester United in 2009. Happy though he was with the...

Ronaldo gets hat trick in 4-1 Madrid win over Ajax

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Karim Benzema smashed in a spectacular overhead kick Wednesday to give Real Madrid a 4-1 victory over Ajax in the Champions League. Ronaldo scored in the 42nd, and added two more in the 79th and 81st minutes to seal the match after Niklas Moisander's 56th minute header had made it 2-1 and briefly given Ajax hope. But Ronaldo took his...

Vilanova: Messi position irrelevant

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova has played down the significance of how talisman Lionel Messi is utilised during the Clasico with...

Messi plays down Mourinho´s influence

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has played down the significance of Jose Mourinho’s influence in the upcoming Clasico with Real Madrid....

Steven Gerrard Joins Parade of Stars on Twitter, Liverpool Captain to Promote Foundation

Lionel Messi, Xabi Alonso and Ronaldo have been doing it for ages -- and now Steven Gerrard has finally joined the world of Twitter. The skipper has set up @SGF08 to promote the work of his charity, the Steven Gerrard Foundation. Unlike some footballers, however, our No. 8 won't be using the social networking site to court controversy. "I'll be putting tweets out there...

Essien Impresses In Madrid Emphatic Win

Michael Essien had a decent game against Ajax Michael Essien continued the road to top form as he helped Real Madrid to thump Ajax 4-1 in the Uefa Champions League on Wednesday night. The 29-year-old lasted 78th minute at the Amsterdam Arena as he continues his recovery to reach top shape. He was picked ahead of Samir Khedira and combined effectively with Xabi Alonso, who had...

Van der Vaart back in Netherlands squad

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has recalled Rafael van der Vaart to his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Romania. Van der Vaart was dropped for the first two qualifiers as he returned to fitness following his move from Tottenham to Hamburg. Also back in the squad announced Friday were midfielders Ibrahim Afellay and Nigel de Jong. Van Gaal called up goalkeeper...
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