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Cristiano Ronaldo - Can he become the best?

Real Madrid and Barcelona have one of the fiercest rivalries in world football. Not only between the two teams is there competition but the clubs’ two best players seemed to have entered a race.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are arguably the best two players in the world. Messi seems to have pulled ahead in the battle for top spot in the world but can the Portuguese winger pull it back?

After identically matching Messi’s goal tally last season, Ronaldo started the new pre-season campaign with a bang. Madrid’s pre-season began with a 4-1 win over Los Angeles Galaxy with Ronaldo joining Callejon, Joselu and Benzema on the score sheet.

Four days later, Ronaldo scored a second-half hat-trick against Guadalajara. His performances were praised by the media as he still showed determination and competitiveness even in friendlies.

In August, Ronaldo netted his 100th Real Madrid goal against Barcelona in the second-leg of a Spanish Super Cup tie. His La Liga campaign opened with a hat-trick against Real Zaragoza in the 6-0 win.

'Tested to the Limit' 

September began with Castrol releasing a television film named ‘Ronaldo: Tested to the Limit’. He was tested in several fields including mental and physical challenges.

His physical performance was put under scrutiny after conclusions from the movie claimed Ronaldo was one of the world’s best athletes; excelling in numerous different categories as well as sport. Several sources drew comparisons with other top athletes such as Usain Bolt.

He responded with a fantastic hat-trick in the 6-2 drubbing of Rayo Vallecano. This was his ninth La Liga hat-trick and his 10th for Real Madrid. After scoring the opening goal against Ajax in the Champions League, he netted his tenth La Liga hat-trick against Malaga in the 4-0 win ending a run of three games without a goal.

Ronaldo’s hat-tricks didn’t stop. In November, the Portuguese winger scored a trio of goals helping Madrid to a 7-1 win against Osasuna. The win ensured Madrid secured top position in the league heading into the international break.

After the break, Ronaldo scored Madrid’s second goal against Valencia in the 2-1 loss. Seven days later, he scored two penalties against fierce rivals Atletico Madrid in El Derbi madrileno which Madrid won 4-1.

Ballon d'Or 

He started December scoring Madrid’s second goal against Sporting Gijon and the second goal against SD Ponferradina in the Copa Del Rey fourth round. Ronaldo was nominated as one of the three finalists in the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or alongside Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez.

After netting yet another hat-trick against Sevilla in the 6-2 demolition, Ronaldo finished third in the UEFA 2010/11 Best Player in Europe award behind Messi and Xavi. He beat Xavi to second in the FIFA Ballon d’Or but couldn’t beat Lionel Messi for the prestigious award.

In Real’s next home game in La Liga, Ronaldo added the fifth goal against Granada in the 5-1 win but was criticised by the media for not celebrating his goal. Ronaldo then went on to score another two penalties against Athletic Bilbao and a brace against Real Zaragoza.

He also bagged two against Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey quarter final which Real eventually lost 4-3 on aggregate. Ronaldo then went on to bag a remarkable fourteenth hat-trick for Madrid against Levante including a picturesque long-range strike in the 4-2 home victory.

These three points stretched the gap between themselves and Barcelona to 10 points at the top of the table. Ronaldo has the ability to take any defender on with searing pace and mesmerising footwork. His shooting and crossing qualities make him a feared opponent as well as his stunning free kick precision.

Love him or loathe him, it’s hard to ignore his fantastic attributes and would be an asset to any team past or present.

By Marcus Banks

Remember to check out the final installment of Marcus' three-part Legend series which will focus on Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham as he prepares for the new season.

To view part one: Lionel Messi, the best player in the world click here

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