Cristiano Ronaldo is a serial record-breaker who’s won everything in the game, yet didn’t stand a chance in the 2019 Ballon d’Or race.
Awards for Cristiano Ronaldo are an annual thing given his incredible performances each season. Therefore, the Juventus star has always been a hot favourite for the Ballon d’Or each year.
He’s won it an unbelievable five times after all, and has always fancied a crack at number six.
Putting it bluntly, though, Ronaldo didn’t stand a chance this year despite making the 30-man shortlist. There was simply too much opposition in his way to win the award, with many favouring Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi.
But, to be fair, the former was brilliant in 2019 and deserves his spot among the best. While Messi has continued to plunder in the goals for Barcelona in scintillating fashion and won the Ballon d’Or for it.
So a third-place finish in this year’s voting panel was probably the best Ronaldo could hope for considering everything.
A lean goal return proves costly for Ronaldo
28 goals and 10 assists in 43 appearances in a single campaign would make any other player a legend to their club.
But Ronaldo is no ordinary player, who averaged 50 goals-per-season during a glittering nine-year spell at Real Madrid. So, it’s undeniable that the Italian supporters expected a lot more.
In fact, he hadn’t managed such a low goal return since his final season at Manchester United in 2008/09.
That fact, alone, seemingly put an end to his Ballon d’Or hopes. The voting journalists, coaches and national team captains for Monday night’s award did little to deny it either.
But they should’ve acknowledged the difficulty in transitioning from La Liga to the Serie A. The two leagues are vastly different, with Italian football favouring a more defensive and technical style compared to Spain’s open-play.
So it’s only natural that Ronaldo’s numbers fell last season.
“It’s harder to score in the Italian league than in the Spanish league,” Ronaldo told DAZN in March.
“The Spanish league is more open, the teams risk more. Here, not so much.
“Here, the team’s priority is to defend first, and then to attack. That’s not true for Spain. Spanish games are more open.”
Champions League failure the ultimate blow
The Portuguese’s performances, on the other hand, were good in Italy considering it was his first season. He even picked up the Serie A’s Player of the Year award in Milan on Monday night.
Although it was hard for him to shine amongst everyone else in Europe, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard and Raheem Sterling enjoying arguably their greatest campaigns to date.
But Ronaldo still helped Juventus win the Serie A and Supercoppa Italiana in his debut season. He later led Portugal to Nations League glory on home soil. Not bad for one year, right?
Cristiano certainly thought so!
But the 34-year-old arrived in Turin last year for one big purpose – to win the Champions League.
After leading one of the greatest comebacks in history against Atletico Madrid, however, Ronaldo couldn’t get Juventus past a young Ajax team in the quarter-final stage of the competition.
Had he done so, and won a sixth Champions League in the process, then the Ballon d’Or outcome could have been a completely different story.