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Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid home fans prepare to pay tribute

Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid home fans prepare to pay tribute

After scooping his fifth Ballon d'Or, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to receive a huge ovation at the Bernabéu today. It's an astonishing haul that brings him level with the five won by Lionel Messi and further cements his position at the pinnacle of the global game. This is a guy who, despite all of Messi's goals and moments of magic, has well and truly stamped his authority on football of recent times. Many who watch the Argentine serve up god-like stuff day in, day out find it odd seeing Cristiano win the award. Well, Messi's an utter phenomenon, of course; but working in the Portuguese's favour is one particular, devastating statistic: his 10 goals across the quarters, semis and final of last term's Champions League. That's hard to ignore.

Cristiano Ronaldo holds his fifth Ballon d'Or award on Thursday.

Cristiano's Bernabéu ovation will be thoroughly deserved

I'm sure we'll see him earn rapturous applause, and it'll be richly deserved. The crowd will put its hands together to honour a Real Madrid great who, as club president Florentino Pérez has said, only admits comparison with Alfredo Di Stéfano. But such devoted words do not tally with the reality of Cristiano's current contract. Messi earns considerably more than him. Neymar also pockets more at Paris Saint-Germain. Just yesterday, Pérez flirted on more than one radio station with the idea of bringing the Brazilian to Real Madrid in the future. That's his prerogative. The question mark lies over whether, having opted to take the giant step down in class from LaLiga to Ligue 1, Neymar would still have big things in him by then.

With Real missing a raft of defenders, this is a chance for Sevilla

Anyway, Cristiano will soak up some thoroughly merited acclaim at the Bernabéu today, before we get down to a LaLiga match in which Sevilla, a side who are making their presence felt this season, have a genuine opportunity. Real Madrid have a significant number of absences at the back, with Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Casemiro all out; if not their entire defence, it's certainly the primary lock on the vault door. It looks like Jesús Vallejo will be able to play, at least; if so, this is a huge chance for the youngster. Legendary careers have been built upon circumstances such as these. Either way, Cristiano will be the man spearheading the home attack; that's something no-one else has in their armoury.