Real Madrid Vs Barcelona: Honours Even In Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d'Or Showdown
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (R) is challenged by Real Madrid's Pepe and Sergio Ramos (L) during their Spanish first division "El Clasico" soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona April 21, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS)
It was built as the Clash of the Titans, the "Clasico" and the ultimate showdown between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sunday's La Liga football game between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Camp Nou had all the ingredients of a pot-boiler. Unfortunately for the fans on both sides the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Ronaldo and Messi had more than match-specific reasons in the contest. They were battling for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or award. The winner of the match will be announced at a gala ceremony in Zurich Jan. 7.
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Ronaldo won the prestigious award in 2008 following which Messi has been grabbing the award for three-years in a row.
Sunday saw both the star players score twice in the match.
Ronaldo's brace kept his record intact against the Catalan club. The prolific striker has scored in all the past six meetings between the two teams. Overall the Portuguese scored his ninth and 10th goal in his 16th appearance against Barca.
Argentine Messi had another record register ringing. He is not just one goal away from "Clasico" marksman, the legendary Real player Alfredo Di Stefano's all time record of 18 goals. Messi score his 16th and 17th in his 22nd Real-Barca game.
Playing in front of 100,000 fans in the stadium, even as millions were glued to their television sets, the two produced impressive performance is probably the biggest fixture in international club football.
Unfortunately, for Real, Sunday's match was a must-win situation, but much to the dismay of manager Jose Mourinho, it ended in a draw.
No wonder, "The Special One" was agitated when asked to comment on the Ballon d'Or.
"I don't want to have to think about the Ballon d'Or, choosing who is the best in the world should be banned," he said.
"They are two players from another planet," he added.
"I would like one of my players to get the prize, one who was champion in the best league in the world."
Messi, however, was modest. "I don't know I cannot speak individually," Messi told reporters.
"I don't focus on myself or anyone else," added the 25-year-old from Rosario.
Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova had no doubt whom he would select.
"You should see how he [Messi] trains, how he competes, the desire he has to be better every day.
"I believe we will never see another player of his calibre. He is the best in the world by a long way."
Result: FC Barcelona (Messi 31', 61') 2 - 2 Real Madrid (Cristiano Ronaldo 23', 66')