Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ballon D' Or and The Gunners

Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon d’Or

Why is Cristiano Ronaldo a deserved winner? There are two major reasons. First of all, there is no denying that Ronaldo had a quite astonishing 2007-08 season. Forty-two goals in all competitions, top scorer in England, the Champions League and European club football, as well as a conqueror of the Premier League and Champions League – this all amounts to a winning hand.
The second major reason, which is just as important as the first and has been almost completely overlooked so far, is the fact that there are no other valid candidates. The disastrous performances of Italian and Spanish teams in Europe last season means that, based on their clubs only, there are no players from these countries who deserve to win the Golden Ball. This leaves just English-based players and, let’s be honest, no one did more from these shores than Ronaldo.
Thus the only team members with a realistic chance of wrestling the trophy from Ronaldo were those from Euro 2008 winners Spain. Iker Casillas was heroic for Real Madrid on their way to the Primera Division, and he was also decisive at the Euros, particularly in the penalty-shootout win over Italy. However, he destroyed his chances with a dreadful start to the current club campaign. Marcos Senna was undoubtedly the best player at Euro 2008, but it is rare for a defensive midfielder to win the award, especially when he plays for little Villarreal.
Xavi didn’t have much of a leg to stand on due to Barcelona’s struggles last term, David Villa’s importance at the Euros was overstated (he did absolutely nothing after the group stages), which left just the goal scorer in the final, Fernando Torres, who in my opinion is probably the best placed to challenge Ronaldo.
So there you have it, Ronaldo deserved to win the Ballon d’Or this season, as much due to his outstanding achievements as to the fact there were virtually no candidates standing against him. I would compare this to Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States. He won, not just because he was a refreshingly exceptional contender, but also because he had an old no-hoper of a 72-year-old in John McCain running against him.
So Ronaldo will go down in the history books as a winner of the Ballon d’Or, but will he be remembered as one of the all-time greats of the game?
Of course, at the age of just 23, it is impossible to tell just yet. But one thing is for certain: Unless Ronaldo starts shining against the top teams/players, and in the big matches and international tournaments, then he can never be mentioned in the same breath as some of the legends of days gone by.
Is Ronaldo a big-game flop? Based on what we have seen from his career so far, the answer is most certainly leaning towards yes.
The Portuguese’s only saving grace, out of dozens of important matches, was his goal in the Champions League final against Chelsea, a game in which he was anonymous for large spells and, having missed a penalty in the shootout, would have been the villain had John Terry not slipped on his match-winning spot kick.
The idea of Ronaldo freezing on the big occasion is not a myth; it is a reality dating back almost five years now. In the Champions League, Ronaldo has offered pathetic displays in successive semifinals against Milan and Barcelona, embarrassingly overshadowed in both legs by Kaka and Lionel Messi, and owned by Rino Gattuso and Gianluca Zambrotta, respectively. In 2004-05, Ronaldo barely got a kick against a still-brilliant 36-year-old Paolo Maldini when Milan eliminated United in the first knockout round. I was at both games, and it was emphatic.
Much has been said about Ronaldo’s exploits in the Champions League, but what has been almost completely forgotten is that only as recently as 2007, even the English media, who have hyped the player to shameless proportions, regarded Ronaldo as something of a European underperformer. Prior to Man United’s famous 7-1 quarterfinal second-leg thrashing of Roma on April 10, 2007, Ronaldo had scored just one goal in 34 Champions League appearances, 28 of these in a United shirt.
Internationally, Ronaldo’s record is not too smart otherwise. He was to blame for Portugal’s shock 1-0 defeat to Greece in the final of Euro 2004 when he missed an easy one-on-one chance. In the 2006 World Cup, when the big knockout matches against England (quarterfinal) and France (semifinal) came along, Ronaldo went missing. At Euro 2008 it was much of the same. When it really mattered in the last eight against Germany, Ronaldo disappeared once again. For those who argue that Portugal are not a big side, well there wasn’t a more talented team on their side of the draw in Austria and Switzerland.
Ronaldo has scored 21 goals in 59 international appearances – a decent record. But take a closer look at who these goals were against: Latvia, Estonia, Russia (2), Luxembourg, Slovakia, Estonia, Greece, Saudi Arabia (2), Iran, Azerbaijan (2), Kazakhstan (2), Belgium (2), Armenia, Czech Republic, Poland, and Holland. With the exception of the Netherlands, it is no coincidence that Ronaldo has failed to score against the superpowers of world football – the Brazils, Argentinas, Italys, Englands, Frances, Spains and Germanys of this world. Only a fortnight ago, Ronaldo was quite abysmal as Portugal were thrashed 6-2 by Brazil in a friendly and he became so frustrated he resorted to a host of dangerous tackles.
Ronaldo is a deserved winner of this year’s Golden Ball, but unless he starts shining in the big games against the better players, he will not qualify as a legend at the end of his career. Consistency over a season is a quality that is often underplayed when deciding the Ballon d’Or winner, but the greats are remembered for performing on the big stage and when it really matters. Would Diego Maradona be regarded as the greatest of all time if he had led Napoli to the Serie A title but had flopped at the 1986 World Cup? Would Pele be considered as a great had he scored his mythical 1,281 goals, but had done nothing at the 1958 and 1970 World Cups?
The answer in both cases is no.
Determination or just sheer of luck
Last Sunday we saw that The gunners beat Chelsea in Stamford Bridge coming from a goal down with both goals scored by Robin Van Persie. It was a shock defeat to Chelsea as Arsenal came to this match with the underdog tags as recent week they had been in a turmoil condition from gallas infamous saying and under achievement performance in the league.But that night Arsenal proves that they have what it takes to challenge the top team like once they did it before.Maybe this squad is not as strong as the unbeaten ones like the good old days but surely they have some young bright players that going to have an excellent future if under the right guidance.Arsenal in that match manage to keep their style of play although their are playing in heavy pressure from chelsea and fan in Stamford bridge.Their defense played absolutely amazing in keeping out the chelsea attackers and the midfield lead by fabregas the captain able to absorb all the pressure . Arsene Wenger after the game comment that gallas played an amazing game that night and he kept his professionalism after recent incidents. Adebayor also added in the post game comment that that game sent out the message to the rest of the team that Arsenal should not be taken lightly.
However, last night, the young guns had been beaten by Burnley by two goals in the league cup competition.yes, it is only the league cup but if Arsenal can win this cup maybe they can somehow repair the damage inside them but then arsene Wenger still continue to use the young player in this cup.The problem with Arsenal this season is lack of depth and inner problem.They also lack of consistency.They win big game like Manchester United and Chelsea but then lost to Stoke and Hull city.The three points they win in Stamford bridge is just the same like the three points they should had won from Hull City.So, if wenger can repair this damage before January and i think form the chelseas game some of the damage had been repair, maybe arsenal can put some hope in the title chase.

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