The three finalists for the UEFA Best Player of Europe award have been released, with the finalists being Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and first-time finalist Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.
Both Messi and Ronaldo consistently provided impressive performances for their respective teams, which have led them to being nominated for their third consecutive award. This year, their chances to win the prize seem slim, as the French winger Ribery has more evidence to prove his entitlement to the award.
Ribery is a large reason why Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga, German League Cup and Champions League in this past year. His improvisational style of searching for space in the final attacking third, along with his long-lasting endurance to press opponents to give up possession, was evident in the lead-up to the European trophy.
Winning the treble is every footballer’s goal in the beginning of the season, and the player most likely to complete that task is usually the standout of the bunch and the man to beat.
Both Messi and Ronaldo had impressive seasons, but do not come close to matching that of Ribery’s. Messi started the 2012-13 season on fire, knocking in goals left and right and pleading his case for the Balon d’Or, given to the world’s best player in January. The Argentine was able to help his club win La Liga, but he rarely performed in the second half of the season due to an injury.
Ronaldo was impressive in La Liga and the CL. The Portuguese forward was the CL’s top scorer and scored 34 goals in the league while also performing in important games for his club. Although Ronaldo’s standout performances were admired, it was a trophy-less season, and that will hurt his chances at winning the award.
Munich’s left-sided winger was integral in a side that had suffered so much trauma in recent years, finishing as the runner-up too many times. Ribery was leader in assists in the Bundesliga, and finished second on the assists table in the CL.
His ruthless defending was also an encouragement to his teammate Arjen Robben, who needed to fulfill his defensive duties in order to gain a place back into the starting roster, which was decisive in the CL Final.
The correct order of the results for the UEFA Best Player in Europe award, according to the accomplishments of each player this past season, should be as follows:
1. Franck Ribery
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
3. Lionel Messi
Alejandro de Jesus is a contributing Soccer writer for RantSports.com. You can follow Alejandro on Twitter right here @GeograFOOT