A brace by Real Madrid’s Higuain sandwiching a Messi penalty was enough to overcome Venezuela.
Colombia 5 Bolivia 0
“El Cafeteros” were the first to start on Friday afternoon and they wasted no time in slapping aside Bolivia in Barranquilla. Torres, Valdes, Gutierrez, Falcoa and Armero each grabbed a goal to bolster their 2nd place position and condemn Bolivia to 2nd bottom.
Paraguay 1 Uruguay 1
In Montevideo, Luis Suarez had looked to have sealed a win with a late volley in 82 minutes. However, Benitez struck 4 minutes late to steal a valuable and unlikely point.
Argentina 3 Venezuela 0
In Buenos Aires it was business as usual as Gonzalo Higuain claimed a brace and a Messi penalty in between. The Argentinians consolidated the pole position, 4 points above Colombia.
Peru 1 Chile 0
Jefferson Farfan was the hero in Lima as he struck in the 87 minute against Chile. The Peruvians have had a rotten campaign but this rare win sees them rise above the bottom dwellers and reintroduce them to the 5th place battle.
Lionel has already revealed he voted for team-mates Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Arguero while Ronaldo would probably vote for himself 3 times.
Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the list, with no fewer than eleven players.
Surprisingly no Scots made the final list, the mind boggles.
Ballon D’Or Shortlist
Sergio Agüero (Argentina & Manchester City)
Mario Balotelli (Italy & Manchester City)
Karim Benzema (France & Real Madrid)
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy & Juventus)
Sergio Busquets (Spain & Barcelona)
Iker Casillas (Spain & Real Madrid)
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea & Shanghai Shenhua)
Radamel Falcao (Colombia & Atlético Madrid)
Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden, AC Milan & Paris St Germain)
Andrés Iniesta (Spain & Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Argentina & Barcelona)
Manuel Neuer (Germany & Bayern Munich)
Neymar (Brazil & Santos)
Mesut Özil (Germany, Real Madrid)
Gerard Piqué (Spain & Barcelona)
Andrea Pirlo (Italy & Juventus)
Sergio Ramos (Spain & Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal & Real Madrid)
Wayne Rooney (England & Manchester United)
Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast & Manchester City)
Robin van Persie (Holland, Arsenal & Manchester United)
Xabi Alonso (Spain & Real Madrid)
Xavi Hernández (Spain & Barcelona)
The winner (Messi) is voted upon by national team managers. captains and select journalists and will be announced on Thursday.
With Lionel Messi and Gonzolo Higuain with 6 goals a piece it’s easy to see why Argentina are top of the CONMEBOL qualification table.
Although Luis Suarez is notoriously profligate for Liverpool for his national team he is on fire.
While Falcao rattles them in for club and country alike is price tag rises and rises. A buy out clause of £54 million looks like a bargain in contrast to Fernando Torres.
Of all the players on the list Felilpe Caicedo, once of Manchester City is the man with the top form. His return to Ecuador’s first team has been integral to their rise up the table with 4 goals in 3 matches.
|1.||G. Higuain (Argentina)||6|
|2.||L. Messi (Argentina)||6|
|3.||L. Suarez (Uruguay)||6|
|4.||Falcao García R. (Colombia)||5|
|5.||F. Caicedo (Ecuador)||4|
|6.||S. Agüero (Argentina)||3|
|7.||Benitez C. (Ecuador)||3|
|8.||Farfán J. (Peru)||3|
|9.||M. Fernández (Chile)||3|
|10.||P. Guerrero (Peru)||3|
The European Championships may provide Cristiano Ronaldo the chance to finally upstage Lionel Messi but only if Portugal go all the way and win the competition.
The Portuguese hit man is constantly compared to the serial World Player of the year. At times it seems that no matter what Ronaldo does, Messi pops up to outshine and out impress.
For many it is unfair to contrast and compare the two as both are excellent footballers with differing abilities and skillsets however as both play on opposing sides of the “El Classico” divide it is inevitable.
Since his transfer from Manchester United to Real Madrid Ronaldo has scored more goals than appearances and regularly broken all sorts of goal scoring records. The problem is the little Argentinian then goes on to raise the bar even further.
In the 2012 season Ronaldo finished with 60 goals in all competitions outstripping his previous seasons tally to become Real Madrid’s all time record goal scorer in one season. However, in this time Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions, (including 50 in to become Pichichi) entering the record books as the all-time European goal scorer.
Many may claim that goal scoring records prove nothing and are merely a reflection of a player’s selfish attitude and poaching ability but for anyone who has watched at least one of Ronaldo’s or Messi’s displays they will know there is much more to there games.
Ronaldo will have to exist in the shadow a greater force for just now. The same unfortunate circumstance is currently befalling the likes of Andy Murray in tennis and the many opponents of Floyd Mayweather in boxing. The only difference is while the other sporting stars accept their place it clearly rankles and frustrates the Portuguese captain.
Like many modern footballers Ronaldo has an ego as big as the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and is not shy in self-promotion and swollen headed boasting. He regularly likes to remind all and sundry of his merits and obvious capabilities and it is no surprise to learn that he thinks he is the best player in the world.
Some may argue that this type of confidence and vainglorious, cocksureness is a necessary aspect of the sporting elite but when he attacks Messi it smacks of arrogance and insolence, especially when the Argentine is usually so modest and composed in response.
Only last week in the aftermath of an underwhelming display against Denmark and taunts from Danish supporters of “Messi, Messi,Messi” he responded ;
“You know where he was at this time last year? Do you know? He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country. I think that’s worse, no?”
A strange comparison, which although true was a nice way a deflecting his own performance and was even more stupid considering Messi had just ran the show in games against Ecuador and Brazil (I wonder if Cristiano was aware of this?)
Yesterday, Portugal managed to overcome a stubborn but limited Czech Republic courtesy of a late Ronaldo header. The Portuguese captain was again at his imperious best replicating his performance against the Dutch only being denied a hat-trick by the Czech woodwork.
If Portugal are to win the championship the rest of their players must try to match their skipper as better teams than the Czech Republic will ask more questions of a limited defence and midfield. EPL stars such as Meireles and Nani in attack combined with a defence including Alves, Coentrao and the mercurial Pepe must raise their game to defeat the likes of Germany, Italy or Spain.
More importantly for Ronaldo his countries success will reward him with the opportunity to lord over Messi who has previously failed to win an international tournament (unless you count the Olympics? Me neither).
In typical fashion Messi would only go on to lead Argentina to World Cup success in 2014 sending Ronaldo into a spell of self-pity, sorrow and self-indulgence.