BARCELONA

Cristiano's last Ballon d'Or win ignited Messi. Can he react again?

After the Real Madrid star won his third Ballon d'Or crown in 2014, Lionel Messi reacted by scoring 35 goals in the next 35 games, leading Barcelona to a historic treble.

Cristiano's last Ballon d'Or win ignited Messi. Can he react again?
Jesús Diges EFE

Barcelona - Espanyol

Make no bones about it, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi absolutely thrive off their fierce personal rivalry. It’s something that’s often been demonstrated in how each reacts to the other winning the Ballon d’Or. For instance, after Ronaldo received his first ‘best player in the world’ award in 2008, Messi reacted by winning four in a row, only for CR7 to win it twice consecutively after that.

A tit-for-tat Ballon d'Or battle 

On that occasion in 2014, when Ronaldo claimed his third Ballon d’Or (the last time the Portuguese had won it before claiming his fourth on Monday), it certainly seemed to rile Messi. Not only did the Real Madrid forward rub it in with a brash celebration on collecting the award, it also put him within just one of equalling the Argentinian’s then four Ballon d’Ors.

Messi's reaction in 2015: 35 goals in 35 games

Messi responded by going on to have an incredible second half to the season, scoring 35 goals in 35 games (22 in 28 LaLiga matches, two in six Champions League encounters, and five more in six Copa del Rey games). He also provided 20 assists.

Lionel Messi with the 2015 Ballon d'Or

The ridiculous run of form saw La Pulga finish the campaign with 43 league goals in total, including the one that handed Barça the title at the Calderón on the penultimate day of the season. He also scored in the Copa del Rey final in May before Barcelona went on to secure a historic treble by beating Juventus in the Champions League a week later.

Will Messi react to Ronaldo win again? 

While Messi did not score in that final, Barça’s Champions League run that year brings back memories of Messi running the show against City in the last 16 and his two strikes against Bayern in the semis (including THAT one which sent Boetang disappearing down a black hole). It was such performances which helped see Messi reclaim his Ballon d'Or crown a few months later.

Although the Barcelona man was two years younger back then (he had not yet turned 28), there’s still a feeling that he has plenty more left in the tank. The question is: can he do what he did in 2015 and blow Cristiano Ronaldo out of Ballon d'Or contention with his performances in the second half of the season once again?