UEFA will crown its Men’s Player of the year on Thursday with Juventus forward; Cristiano Ronaldo up against Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the forward.
The previous year, Luka Modric ended Ronaldo and Messi’s supremacy of the award and Virgil Van Dijk will hope to leave the duo empty-handed again after a stellar season with the Reds.
Familiar opponents; Ronaldo and Messi in battle
When it comes to shortlisting the best player trophies, whether, in the world or Europe, Ronaldo and Messi have appeared on both for the best part of the decade.
Ronaldo has one three times (2014, 2016, 2017) since the inception of the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award in 2011. His counterpart Messi has won twice (2011 and 2015).
The two are on the race once again after phenomenal seasons. Ronaldo helped Juventus win Serie A while Messi led Barcelona to the La Liga title.
This is how their form over the past year compare
Messi, by far was the deadlier finisher for the club and country between 31st July 2018 and 31st July 2019. During this period, Messi scored 54 goals to Ronaldo’s 31 and boasted goals per minute ratio of 86 minutes compared to 127 for his Portuguese rival.
Messi did much better than he was expected to do. The striker scored just under 15 more goals than his expectation goals tally up 35.62 for Barcelona. Meanwhile, Ronaldo scored 28 goals on par with his expectation goals total 28.3.
To widen the comparison to the rest of Europe, Messi outscored all his rivals. His closest challenger Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scored 11 goals fewer than the Argentina international with 40.
Ronaldo was outscored by eight players in Europe’s top five leagues. His total 0f 21 league goals were bettered by three players in Serie A.
Virgil Van Dijk
Van Dijk; the defender has been a revelation for Liverpool since he joined Southampton. He was part of the side that won the Champions League last season and pushed eventual Premier League champions Manchester City all the way.
Going down the history, a defender has never won the award before. Van Dijk being in the run against Messi and Ronaldo has already been a huge achievement.
The question is, can he be crowned Europe’s best player?
The Dutch international made 59 appearances for club and country last season. He scored 9 goals and provided 4 assists. Additionally, he had more minutes of playing in Liverpool (4465) than any other outfield defender. In all competitions, he won over 70% of his duels and aerial battles, underlying the importance at the heart of the defense.
Liverpool conceded 22 goals fewer than any other Premier League last season. Van Dijk was the key that he won 76.3% of his duels in the League.
Borussia Dortmund boss feels it’s the right time for a defender to be crowned as Europe’s best. He said, “Modern football should be a bit more open for these things. We don’t have to talk just about Messi and Ronaldo. If we talk about last season, Virgil deserves it. If we talk about lifetime career then, Messi and Ronaldo, fight for it. It’s good for kids to see you that can be a superstar even if you only defend it.”