Millennium Post

Magical Messi

The outcome was never going to change. Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the world player of the year on Monday, finished ahead of Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar in the annual poll organised by football’s governing body. The Argentine genius, who is undoubtedly the greatest player of his generation, was rightfully awarded the prestigious award for his exceptional show of talent in this calendar year (2015). Anyone who saw the superstar play from January to June would not have treated Monday’s development as news. This is Messi’s fifth Ballon d’Or award, two ahead of his greatest rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The Barcelona forward, who picked up his first World Player of the Year award in 2009, repeating the feat for the following three successive years in 2010, 2011 and 2012, had finished second to Ronaldo in both 2013 and 2014. And the numbers don’t lie. The Argentine scored 34 La Liga goals from 33 appearances in 2015, as well as five goals in nine games in the UEFA Champions League during the calendar year. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also registered 19 assists over both competitions in 2015—two more than Ronaldo (17). Combining goals and assists in both competitions, data shows that Messi either scored or made a goal, on average, every 61 minutes. In contrast, Ronaldo took an average of 64 minutes. Football is a team game. Even within those confines, Messi’s contribution to Barcelona’s historic treble (Spanish league title, Spanish Cup and the UEFA Champions League) in the 2014/15 season was nothing short of stupendous. At the start of the 2014/15 season, Messi had looked a little worse for wear after his exertions for Argentina in the World Cup. It seemed as if the exertions of past seasons had finally caught up to the little genius. Since the turn of 2015, however, all those concerns were laid aside. His record over the past decade speaks of insane consistency at the highest level of the game, akin to the great Don Bradman in cricket or Michael Jordan in basketball. Messi is a shining example of consistency, valour, effort and incomparable hardwor. Critics and stalwarts of the game had suggested that Messi deserved the award merely for his performance in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against German giants Bayern Munich. As the world watched a nail-biting contest between the two greatest club sides in recent times, Messi’s sheer display of class was in itself a story that deserved to be told. In those 80 minutes, a team full of legends in Bayern Munich had to submit themselves to the Barcelona star’s superiority. With the award bagged this year, Messi will now start the new calendar year on a high. If he maintains the same form that carried him through 2015, this calendar year could turn out to be more or less the same. 
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