Lionel Messi not winning Ballon d’Or would be ‘madness,’ says Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry says it would be “madness” if Barcelona star Lionel Messi is denied the Ballon d’Or trophy on Monday.

Thierry Henry says it would be “madness” if Barcelona star Lionel Messi is denied the Ballon d’Or trophy on Monday.

Along with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca teammate Neymar, Messi is a finalist for the award, which will be announced on Jan. 11.

Messi, who led his club to a historic Treble last season, has been named world’s best player a record four times in his career. And Henry, who played with the Argentine from 2007-10, has declared it would be an injustice if the Blaugrana No. 10 did not add to his collection this time around.

“All we can do is enjoy what he does because what he is doing is not normal,” Henry told Barca’s official website on Thursday.

“We used to say that a player who got 23 to 25 goals in a season was an incredible striker, but Messi does that in three months.

“We had incredible players in that [Barca] team [that Henry played in] and whenever you did not know what to do, you always looked for Messi.

“I think it would be madness if he does not win the Ballon d’Or. He deserves it because the team won another Treble.

“But what I do not understand is why Suarez isn’t there.”

Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final last year and look the early favourites to lift the trophy in 2016, which would make them the first side in the Champions League era to repeat — a feat Henry believes will happen.

“In a single game, Bayern [Munich] can win it and you have to be careful with PSG too,” he said.

“You never know what might happen, but I think Barca can win it again.”

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The stats that show Ronaldo could be losing his magic

The former Manchester United man has struggled to convert chances in La Liga this term, though he could be set for a welcome boost against Getafe on Saturday

The stats that show Ronaldo could be losing his magic

Of all the issues facing Real Madrid this season, perhaps the most worrying for Rafa Benitez and fans at Santiago Bernabeu is the form of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal international found the net on five occasions against Espanyol on September 12, but has only netted a further four times in La Liga since as the Blancos slipped behind Barcelona in the race for the title.

And Ronaldo can only blame himself for his poor returns in front of goal, with the former Manchester United man’s shot conversion rate of 12.12 per cent his worst since moving to the Spanish capital.

Ronaldo’s efforts pale in comparison to Barca duo Neymar and Luis Suarez, who have been in electric form both with and without Lionel Messi in the side, though both are trailing behind Real Sociedad’s Imanol Agirretxe.

But there could be some good news this weekend for Ronaldo, with Madrid’s opponents Getafe having conceded more goals from the penalty spot this season and the reported Paris Saint-Germain target his side’s designated spot-kick taker.

Culled from goal.com

 

Silva: Ronaldo’s French Will Help Him At PSG

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva believes Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will join the French giants next year. 

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The Brazilian insisted the addition of Ronaldo would be great for the French champions, adding that the forward’s ability to speak French would help him settle in quickly.

“I do not know if Ronaldo will sign, but it is fun playing with such major players,” he told RMC.

“Ronaldo is the best player in the world. If the club wants him, of course the PSG squad would be happy.

“He is a very good player, technically essential for all teams in the world and especially for PSG, who have a big dream to win the Champions League with great players.

“I think Ronaldo will come. I do not know what happened with Blanc after the game because he did not say, but I hope there were positive talks between the two.

“He speaks French very well, perhaps better than me, and if it happens next year he will have no difficulty speaking with the media.”

There is a lot of speculation surrounding Ronaldo’s future, with many believing this season could be his last in Spain.

The 30-year-old has scored 13 goals and assisted a further two strikes in 15 matches for Real this season.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo Will Be Great In El Clasico Insists Casemiro

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has defended Cristiano Ronaldo against recent criticism and is confident the Portugal star will be in great form for the Clasico with Barcelona on November 21.

Ronaldo has netted eight goals in 11 La Liga appearances so far this term, but failed to find the net in seven of those games.

The 30-year-old put in an underwhelming performance in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Sevilla, yet Casemiro believes there is no reason to worry.

“Cristiano is in very good form,” the Brazilian midfielder told the official Madrid website.

“I’m positive that he’s going to have an excellent game against Barcelona because he’s the best player in the world.

“We’re unhappy with the result against Sevilla, but we have to start thinking about the Clasico now.

“There’s no better match to that for bouncing back. We’re capable of winning.

“We’re Real Madrid and we’ve already shown in La Liga and the Champions League that we’re capable of playing well.”

Madrid sit second in the table heading into the Clasico with 24 points from 11 games, trailing Barcelona by three points.

World’s best? Neymar & Suarez putting Messi & Ronaldo in shade in 2015-16

The South American pair netted all three goals in Barcelona’s 3-0 win at home to Villarreal on Sunday and may even eclipse the usual suspects in the scoring charts this term

World's best? Neymar & Suarez putting Messi & Ronaldo in shade in 2015-16

It’s always one or the other. Even since Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid in 2009, it has been either the Portuguese or Barcelona rival Lionel Messi leading the scoring charts in Spain. But the duo’s dominance in front of goal could be under threat this term if Neymar and Luis Suarez keep up their current form.

Ronaldo and Messi have won the Pichichi prize given to the top scorer in La Liga three times apiece over the last six seasons, with those two also the leading marksmen in all competitions by some distance between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

The Portuguese has made his usual strong start this time around as well, with 13 goals in his 14 appearances so far in 2015-16. Messi, who has been out since September 26 through injury, is understandably further behind with six strikes in his nine matches.

But in the Argentine’s absence, Neymar and Suarez have stepped up with the goals. Barca’s other two South American forwards have now netted 20 of the side’s last 23 in all competitions – as well as all 16 Liga goals since the four-time Ballon d’Or winner limped off against Las Palmas.

Villarreal did not make things easy in Sunday’s match and Barca had to wait until the second half despite creating chances from the outset.

And when the breakthrough came, it arrived from a familiar source: Neymar. The Brazilian dispatched a fine finish after Villarreal had given the ball away in their own half and Sergio Busquets had picked out the 23-year-old with a pinpoint pass.

In the meantime, Suarez’s shooting had been erratic, but he had the chance to make it 2-0 later on as Munir El Haddadi won a penalty and Neymar generously gave the Uruguayan the opportunity to print his name on the scoresheet. It was a gift too good to turn down and Suarez slotted home to double Barca’s lead.

The game’s most memorable moment, however, belonged to Neymar. The Brazilian controlled a bouncing ball in the area with his stomach, flipped it over his head with his right foot to leave his marker dumbfounded and volleyed past Villarreal goalkeeper Alphonse Areola. It was a stunning strike reminiscent of Barca legends like Ronaldinho and Rivaldo – and it won him a huge ovation from the Camp Nou crowd.

The Brazilian’s double means he now has 13 goals in 14 games for Barcelona in 2015-16, while Suarez’s strike saw the Uruguayan take his tally for the season to 13 in 17 games.

Ronaldo failed to net in Madrid’s meeting with Sevilla later on Sunday as Los Blancos lost 3-2, so both players are now level with the Portuguese and Messi (who is still recovering from injury), will have some catching up to do when he returns to action for the Catalan club.

Asked if Neymar is now the second best player in the world behind Messi, Luis Enrique said: “That’s up to others to decide. I’m just privileged to have unique players who work for the good of the collective.”

And on the excellent relationship between Messi, Neymar and Suarez, he added: “We saw that from the start. But it’s the same for the whole squad. We are lucky to have these players.”

The win sees Barca head into the international break on fine form and up next is the Clasico clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on November 21.

Messi and Ronaldo usually top the billing when it comes to meetings between Barca and Real, but the Argentine may not be back for this one and the prolific Portuguese is being matched in front of goal by the Catalans’ other two forwards.

So the latest edition of the famous fixture could be as much about Neymar and Suarez as it is about Messi and Ronaldo – and the game’s two greatest players from recent years may even find themselves eclipsed in the scoring charts this term if the Brazilian and the Uruguayan can continue their current form.

Neymar: I don’t like watching football

The Brazilian says he does not follow the game outside of the pitch and also dismissed his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or

Neymar: I don’t like watching football

Barcelona star Neymar claims he does not like watching football when he’s not playing but admits he is enjoying life at Camp Nou after a strong start to the season.

The Brazil international has scored eight goals in his last six games for Luis Enrique’s side, who are level on points with Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

The two sides will go head-to-head in El Clasico after the international break, and Neymar says the first goal he scored against Real Madrid was one of the best moments of his career.

“It was a great moment. I always dreamed about a moment like this. It was one of the happiest days in my life,” he told BeIN Sports.

“Brazil – Argentina is very similar to a Barcelona – Real Madrid. It’s going to be a very difficult game

“This is my best year, I’m playing the way I like, I’m very happy. I feel like I’m at home. My first year was to learn, the second was better.

“I always loved the way Barcelona play and the players. I adapt to their play. Luis Suarez and I have to run to find space to receive passes from these great players.

“I don’t know if we [Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi] are the best, but we have great players. I hope we can be in our best form for many years.”

Neymar also insisted that he is focusing on winning more titles for last season’s treble winners, but dismissed his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or from Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I don’t like to watch football games when I’m not playing for Barcelona,” he added.

“I don’t watch Real Madrid games. I don’t like to watch other teams. I can’t opine about something I don’t see.

“For me the important thing is to win titles. The Ballon d’Or is always between Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, players from another planet.

“I don’t pay attention to this things, I want to help to my partners.”

Messi is Barcelona’s best ever – but is Ronaldo Madrid’s all-time greatest?

The Portuguese scored against Levante on Saturday to surpass Raul and become the club’s all-time top scorer, but is he the finest footballer to grace the famous white shirt?

Messi is Barcelona’s best ever - but is Ronaldo Madrid’s all-time greatest?

Cristiano Ronaldo is now officially the greatest goalscorer in the history of Real Madrid. The Portuguese forward scored after just half an hour against Levante on Saturday to surpass Raul’s record of 323 goals for los Blancos. But is he the greatest player to ever represent the club?

Over at Barcelona, there is no such debate about Lionel Messi. When Madrid coach Rafa Benitez surprisingly said recently that Ronaldo was not necessarily the best he had coached, eyebrows were raised. Asked the same question about Messi the following day, Barca boss Luis Enrique had no doubt. “I don’t like to compare them,” he said. “But Messi is the best in the world and the best in history. That’s my opinion.”

It is the opinion of many. Yet while the Argentine attacker is often described as the best player to ever grace the game, few have dubbed Ronaldo the finest footballer in history. One notable exception is Jorge Mendes, but he is Cristiano’s agent and personal friend, bigging up his prized asset whenever he has the chance.

Meanwhile, a Google search for “Ronaldo best in history” brings up a 33-minute compilation video of goals and memorable moves at the top of the results page. Featured, however, is not Cristiano but another Ronaldo – the former Barca, Madrid and Brazil striker who retired in 2011.

Messi became Barca’s all-time top scorer back in March 2012 when he surpassed Cesar Rodriguez (253 goals for the Blaugrana between 1939 and 1954). The Argentine attacker now has 418 for the Catalan club in a total of 493 appearances.

Crucially, however, he has won 25 trophies for the Camp Nou club – including seven Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. And just when it appeared he may be losing some of his magic as injuries interrupted him in 2013-14, he returned to lead Barca to an unprecedented second treble the following season.

Ronaldo, however, has won only one Liga title and one Champions League crown in his six seasons so far at the Santiago Bernabeu. In total, the Portuguese has claimed seven titles in that time, but while Messi has led the Catalan club during the most successful spell in their entire history, this is anything but a golden era for Real Madrid.

Cristiano was key as los Blancos claimed la Decima in 2013-14, scoring 17 times to set a new Champions League goals record and ending the calendar year with four trophies as Real also added the Uefa Super Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup to the Copa del Rey they had won prior to their European triumph.

However, Ronaldo’s return pales in comparison alongside the trophies claimed by players like Alfredo Di Stefano and Paco Gento in the 1950s and 1960s – an era when Madrid dominated football by winning the first five European Cups.

Di Stefano was considered the greatest player in that era and won 18 trophies in total, including those five European Cups, eight Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and an Intercontinental Cup in a time when there were no Spanish Supercopas to bump up a silverware collection.

Di Stefano died last year at the age of 88 and Madrid paid tribue to their former player, coach and honorary president in a piece on their website entitled ‘Alfredo Di Stefano – the best player of all time’.

“Di Stefano passed away today at 88 years of age in Madrid,” it said. “The Blond Arrow was born on 4 July 1926 in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and is considered one of the best footballers of all time.

“Di Stefano is the only player in history to have won the Super Ballon d’Or. He played 11 seasons with Real Madrid and was a key factor in the club’s world domination.”

Madrid cannot claim “world domination” in their current era, even after last year’s World Club Cup and Champions League crowns – particularly as Barca (and Messi) have won 17 trophies to Real’s seven since Ronaldo moved to the Bernabeu in a €94 million (£80m) move in the summer of 2009.

And even Raul, the club’s all-time top scorer before Saturday, won 16 trophies for Real including three Champions Leagues and six Primera Division titles.

The Spanish striker scored 323 goals in 741 appearances for los Blancos, while Di Stefano netted 308 in 396 games according to the club’s website. Now Ronaldo has overtaken them both – and he has done it in a much more impressive ratio as well with his 324 strikes arriving in only 310 matches.

So he is undoubtedly the greatest goalscorer in Madrid’s history – there is little question about that. But is he, like Messi at Barcelona, the finest footballer to ever represent the club?

Not yet. For all his brilliance and his superb strike rate over the last six years, the Portuguese needs a few more top trophies in a period of domination domestically and in Europe if he to displace Di Stefano (and arguably others, too) and be considered the club’s greatest ever player. And at the age of almost 31, time is running out.