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Wait soon over for top player

Sunday, January 12, 2014

MADRID - Cristiano Ronaldo is keen to win his second FIFA Ballon d'Or award and thus end the years of domination of Lionel Messi.

Barcelona's Argentine striker is one of Ronaldo's rivals for the title — which will be announced on Monday in Zurich — along with Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich.

Ronaldo first won the prestigious award in 2008, after helping Manchester United to win the Champions League. Since then, he has had to put up with Messi winning it four times consecutively, despite all his hat-tricks and goals for Real Madrid.

However, the tide might now have finally turned back in Ronaldo's favour. 2013 was a good year for the Portuguese striker, while Messi has struggled with various injuries.

"2013 was the best year in Ronaldo's career so far, this is why he deserves the Ballon d'Or," sports daily Marca declared.

Ronaldo finished second behind Messi in last season's Liga scoring chart, 46 goals to 34, but he is on top of the chart this season with 20 goals.

Ronaldo is also top of the Champions League scoring list with nine goals, and almost single-handedly guided Portugal into the World Cup finals by scoring all their four goals in the 4-2 aggregate defeat of Sweden in the play-offs.

"Quite simply, we would not have not reached the finals were it not for Ronaldo. He was absolutely decisive against Sweden, the big difference between the two teams," Lisbon paper A Bola said in its review of 2013.

Luckily for Ronaldo, FIFA decided to extend the voting period for the Ballon d'Or until the play-offs had finished, a controversial, unprecedented move which annoyed Messi and Ribery but probably helped Ronaldo due to his goal blitz against the hapless Swedes.

Ronaldo is so popular in Portugal that hundreds of visitors have already flocked to the personal museum that the striker has opened, on his native island of Madeira.

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