The Portuguese forward has eight goals in his last three Champions League games and will be the big favourite for the individual award once more.
Cristiano Ronaldo is back doing what he does best. The Real Madrid attacker has found a rich vein of scoring form when it matters most and his eight goals in the last three games have left Los Blancos on the verge of another Champions League final. And whether or not they win in Cardiff, another Ballon d’Or is likely to follow.
Just recently, the Portuguese was on his longest drought in the continental competition, having failed to convert in over 600 minutes in Europe. But that streak came to an end with his double at the Allianz Arena in the quarter-final first leg – and he has not looked back since.
A hat-trick followed in the sides’ second match at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid prevailed in extra time against Bayern Munich, before another treble in the semi-final meeting with Atletico last Tuesday. Eight goals in three matches and the drought is a distant memory now.
Rested by coach Zinedine Zidane more than usual in the current campaign in order to keep him fresh for the biggest tests, Ronaldo is some way behind Lionel Messi’s 51 goals in all competitions this term. But with Madrid favourites to win La Liga and also the Champions League, Cristiano could end the season with both of the major trophies in his possession.
Messi and Barca will be expected to win the Copa del Rey later in May against Alaves, while the Catalan club remain in contention for La Liga as well. However, Madrid are on the same points as Barca and still have a game in hand over their Clasico rival.
Even if Luis Enrique’s men can claim another domestic double (as they did in 2015-16), it is unlikely to be enough for Messi to win the Ballon d’Or – because voters seem to place more emphasis on the Champions League these days.
Ronaldo won it last season and also added another continental crown as Portugal claimed the European Championship. This summer, however, there is no major international tournament and the Confederations Cup is unlikely to have too much sway when it comes to the Ballon d’Or.
And although the individual award has turned into something of a popularity contest between Messi and Ronaldo in recent years, major competition for the Portuguese for the golden ball could come from a different source this time around.
Juventus sealed their place in the Champions League final with victory over Monaco on Tuesday night and the Itallian side are still on course for a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and European Cup crowns.
If the Bianconeri can beat Madrid (who should seal their place in Cardiff on Wednesday against Atletico) in the final, Gianluigi Buffon could be in contention for the Ballon d’Or (which cut its ties with FIFA last year and is now the property of magazine France Football) and perhaps even Dani Alves as well.
However, it is extremely difficult for goalkeepers and defenders to win the prestigious prize and even the French magazine posted a piece on Tuesday entitled “Who can beat Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or 2017?”
The answer is probably no one. Because the Portuguese looks odds-on to claim the award for a fifth time to draw level with Messi in December. Only a catastrophe can stop him now.