2013 proved to be another goal-drenched year for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star helped himself to 34 of them in the 2012/13 Liga season, a haul beaten only by Lionel Messi’s 45, and scored a hatful more in Europe and for his national team. Always on top form for Real Madrid and Portugal, the flying forward, who won the FIFA World Player award in 2008, is only gaining in stature with Los Merengues, and it came as no surprise when he extended his contract with the club to 2018 and said he was considering staying put for the rest of his career.
Since winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or the Barcelona ace has showed no sign whatsoever of letting up, topping the La Liga’s scoring charts as his side made off with the 2012/13 league title. Messi has been just as prolific on the international front, finishing the South American qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ as the second-highest marksman. With a third world finals to look forward to next year, the 26-year-old attacking wizard is bearing downing fast on another record, as he seeks to become the highest goalscorer in the history of the UEFA Champions League.
Frustration reigned for Franck Ribery in 2012 as Bayern Munich finished runners-up in the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League, but the dangerous France winger did not have to wait long to exorcise the memory. Operating at a different level since those disappointments, he helped his side win all three competitions in 2013, adding the UEFA Super Cup for good measure. Moreover, he has also shone brighter for Les Bleus in recent times, becoming a more convincing and decisive performer on the international stage. Reputed for his mesmerising dribbles, precise shooting ability, and explosive acceleration, those qualities could well keep Bayern on top at home and abroad and inspire France to force their way back into the limelight – just as they convinced UEFA to crown him the Best Player in Europe in 2013.