It’s a surprise that after five days of voting for the #TalkingXI, not one Real Madrid player has made it in to the side. Iker Casillas came close in goals; Marcelo almost pipped Jordi Alba at left-back and Sergio Ramos was a contender for the centre of defence. Yet the Spanish Primeira Liga champions have no representation in the best team on the planet. What’s happening?
Well, you haven’t had to wait too long as we move on to the midfield four in our 4-4-2 formation. Things could quite conceivably lead to a Madrid or Barcelona player in every remaining position. They are two of the best teams on the planet, led by two top managers and full of quality individual players – two of which are virtual stick-ons in the public vote.
So, it’s with surprise that we announce the right-midfielder.
He’s blazed a trail through world football since really emerging at Manchester United in 2006. With his brazen swagger and ability to crush the strongest of opponents with one lethal swoop of his right boot, the 27 year old is now one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.
His breakthrough as a boy at Sporting Lisbon was laden with promise. Three goals in 25 first team appearances is paltry return in comparison to the 19 goals in 22 games he has for Madrid this season, but he showed signs of the explosive pace, quickness of feet and undeniable confidence in his own ability from an early stage.
Sir Alex Ferguson noticed that and it was at Manchester United where the boy turned in to a man. Initial settling in was followed by a stage where Gary Neville, his former United team-mate, described him as ‘a player on another planet. The best in the world”. He made 20 goals and scored 23 in 53 games during the 2006/2007 season. It was the start of something special. He added 43 goals in 50 matches the following season. 26 in 51 after that. Then to top it all off he fired 11 in 27 international games, including a semi-final appearance at the 2006 European Championships, for Portugal. He won three Premier League titles, two League Cups, one FA Cup and one Champions League in 2008 – a game where he missed a penalty in a tense shoot-out, but had already scored the equaliser in normal time. His personal accolades continued to pile up. The FIFA Ballon d’Or, the only time the forward has won the award, came at United in 2008.
Cristiano Ronaldo made football his own in Manchester. In Madrid, he mastered it!
Only Lionel Messi surpasses his achievements. In the Spanish capital he scored 33 goals in 35 games during his first season. His natural progression continued with 53 in 55 throughout 2010/2011. By this time, the Portuguese powerhouse packed power, pace, precision and a punch which no-one, not even Barcelona, could stop. In the 2011/2012 season, he fired 64 goals in 58 games – more than a goal a game – on his way to snatching the Spanish title from Pep Guardiola’s all-dominating Catalan club. He scored in all but one Clasico last term.
His running battle with Lionel Messi to be the greatest player in the world boils down to goals and trophies and, to be honest, Ronaldo has a legitimate case to win on both. That said, his sometimes petulant attitude will continue to go against him and until the day he completely blows his rival out the water, he’s going to have to settle for second best. There’s worse things.
The only surprise with his selection in the #TalkingXI is finding him on the right of midfield, but he wont care; he’ll just keep scoring goals.
Here’s some of the voters telling us why:
“Cristiano Ronaldo. Best winger of all-time. End of.” – NourS, @Noursedki28
“Ronaldo for me. Iniesta the better player but Ronaldo fits the position with his speed, power, consistency and all round play.” – Adam Warner, @adzibhoy
“It’s typical of the fan culture in Britain that we criticise Ronaldo for the way he acts during a game. He’s mellowed as a person, his performances have gone through the roof as a player and, if it weren’t for Lionel Messi, he would be far and away the greatest player on the planet.” – Jonny Boyle. Talking Editor, @beanroll