Former winner Luis Figo backs Ronaldo to beat Messi to this year's Ballon d'Or
18:15 GMT, 27 December 2012
Luis Figo has said there’s nothing to stop Cristiano Ronaldo from achieving Ballon d’Or glory this year.
The former Portuguese midfielder says Ronaldo is more than deserving of the honour, highlighting his excellent performances for both Real Madrid and their shared nation.
‘There’s nothing to stop [Ronaldo] from winning it,’ the former Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon hero.
Legend: Figo won the Ballon d'Or in 2000 during his first season for Real Madrid
‘He is one of the favourites to win all the individual trophies there are, even more so this year, because I think he had a good season in the league and did well at the Euros.’
Quoted in Mundo Deportivo, the 2000 Ballon d’Or recipient added: ‘There are a lot of people involved in the choice, so it is always difficult to know who will win.’
When he scores, he can really go for it. Ronaldo has netted seven league hat-tricks in each of the last two seasons.
Goal machines: Both Messi and Ronaldo have been in magnificent goalscoring form over the past few seasons
Figo is of course referring to the seemingly unstoppable Lionel Messi as Ronaldo’s competition, but even suggests it’s easier to win the honour now, than it was in his day.
‘It was one of the most special moments in my career on the individual side of things, because there are few players who have the opportunity to win this trophy.
‘At the time, there were lots of players who were in with a shout, whilst now there are four or five big candidates.
Ronaldo was unable to lead Portugal to glory in Euro 2012 after they were knocked out by Spain in the semi-final
Messi's incredible hat-trick against Brazil silenced those who criticised him for his under-par performances for Argentina
Wayne Rooney is the only English player on the shortlist for the award
‘It was a privilege and a proud moment for me.’
Barcelona ace Messi has a truly mind-blowing ability for finding the back of the net and whether or not he’s a safe bet for the Ballon d’Or, he’s already had plenty of reason to celebrate.
He’s Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, something he achieved aged just 24, and earlier this matched Gerd Muller’s record for the most goals scored in a calendar year. If he is triumphant, it will be his fourth successive Ballon d’Or.
The initial 23-man shortlist, dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona players and featuring Wayne Rooney as the lone Brit, was whittled down to just three, with Andreas Iniesta completing the trio.
National coaches, captains and selected journalists will vote for the winner of the FIFA crown and the winner will be presented at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 7, 2013.
They’re arguably the world’s greatest footballers, so what finer way to split them apart than by checking out their stats:
BATTLE FOR THE BALLON D'OR: RONALDO VS MESSI