The 2014 Ballon Chase Has Already Begun

This literally never ends in Spain. Moments after Ronaldo lifted the trophy, the debate began about 2014. And Ronaldo and Lionel Messi started scoring goals again...

Last Updated: 17/01/14 at 14:01 Post Comment

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Well, that didn't take long, about half a millisecond in fact.

We are talking here about the time between the end of the battle for the 2013 Ballon d'Or and the start of the skirmishes for the next contest. Indeed, that infinitesimally small moment probably happened when it suddenly dawned on Leo Messi that if you are going to go with the wacky suit look, you had better make sure that it is being worn by a man clutching an award.

The footballing sparring match to win next year's trinket began on the pitch in La Liga this week whilst the crowing and complaining about the latest award from supporters and detractors of the imperial pair was still rumbling in the background. Forty-eight hours after tearfully lifting the 2013 trophy, Ronaldo was back in action in Pamplona scoring the opener against Osasuna in a Copa del Rey clash, although he was helped massively by a goalkeeper failing to gather his free-kick thunderbolt.

Not wanting to be left behind, Leo Messi continued his recovery from injury with a brace against Getafe in the Coliseum in the Copa del Rey the following day, to fit nicely with the brace against Getafe in the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey last week. The Argentinean has the chance to score a heck of a lot more over the next ten days with three games coming up against Levante, starting with a league encounter on Sunday and followed by a couple of cup clashes.

It's no real wonder that Levante boss Joaquín Caparrós compared what's in store for his team to three trips to the dentist. However, Caparrós may have wanted to make that four considering the encounter between these two clubs on the first day of the season ended in a 7-0 win for the Catalan club - quite the root canal drilling.

However, Ronaldo will have his chance to rack up some more strikes as well with Saturday's visit to Betis, a team at the bottom of the table with just two wins, 11 points and a growing realisation that sacking new WBA boss Pepe Mel late last year was a really dumb idea.

For Real Madrid, the match is a chance to continue the dogged pursuit of Barcelona and Atlético Madrid, two teams that hold a three-point lead and also a better head-to-head record against the Bernabéu club.

Diego Costa, a footballer who might also be throwing his hat into the Ballon d'Or ring, will be looking for his first league goal in two games against Sevilla, a clash that can sometimes be a bit fruity in terms of fisticuffs. The Brazilian also fired a blank in a midweek cup clash against Valencia, with Diego Simeone true to his word that he feels the need to win every single contest he ever competes in by leading Atlético to a 2-0 win and a 3-1 victory on aggregate.

Whilst these games plod along this weekend, there is set to be more squabbling between the media of the two Clásico rivals. The highlight of the somewhat childish and dramatically fraught nature of the Ballon d'Or debate is perhaps leading Madridista and AS loon - as well as grown man - Tomás Roncero, filmed crying along with Cristiano Ronaldo when watching him receiving his award.

In terms of infantile behavior, the response was matched in Barcelona by Josep Maria Casanovas, writing in 'Sport' and deciding that the trophy is a load of old rubbish anyway, despite the fact that it was in Leo Messi's possession for quite some time. 'The Ballon d'Or is a show, a gala for glory and the protaganism of Blatter,' sniffed the columnist.

The truth of the matter is that whilst these two footballers are on opposing ends of the Great Divide in La Liga, Ballon d'Or talk will never, ever end. The squabbling will either be over who should win it next year or who should have won it the year before. Messi and Ronaldo certainly don't help matters by continuing to score a whole bunch of goals, though - something else that never seems to cease in Spain.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter.

As good as Suarez is he cannot be even considered until he performs in the Champion's League. And perform well. A hat-trick against Norwich or even outstanding performances in the Premiership does not equate a Ballon D'Or contender. It's the highest level we're talking about here. Yes the World Cup will have a huge input. It is much more likely that Bayern in the Champions League & Germany in the WC will have a bearing in the winner....or it will be between Messi & Ronaldo again.
- thegame983

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