The past year has seen a change at the pinnacle of world football, with Cristiano Ronaldo thrusting himself to the fore through goals, trophies and individual honours.
Leaving aside the World Cup, when he was clearly hampered by injury, the Real Madrid star’s performances over the last 12 months have been so consistently brilliant and his stats so impressive that barely a few years ago they would have been unfathomable.
Both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi belong to that select band of greats who have been touched by the gods. They may walk on the same ground and breathe the same air as the rest of us, but they are of a higher order and their feats have long eclipsed what mere mortals are capable of.
In 2014, the Portuguese ace has outscored the Argentine by six goals at club level (56 to 50), though the Barça man played a game more. The difference becomes more conspicuous when strike rates are considered: while Cristiano has racked up 1.10 goals a game, Messi has averaged 0.96 goals per encounter.
The gap widens when only La Liga is taken into account. The ‘Azulgranas’ maestro has netted 35 times in 36 league appearances, while CR7 has bagged 38 goals in 28 fixtures in the Spanish top flight, giving him an extraordinary strike rate of almost 1.36 goals a match.
The biggest factor in this disparity is Ronaldo‘s extraordinary start to the 2014-15 season. The ex-Manchester United forward has got his name on the scoresheet 25 times in just 14 La Liga appearances this term, while his closest challenger – Messi, has 15 goals under his belt.