Spanish La Liga stats – 11 goals 8 assists
Champions League stats – 4 goals 4 assists
Robinho had a tremendous year for Real Madrid, only Raul and Ruud Van Nistelroy scored more goals and only Guti had more assists. Robinho also had a classic display of his prowess in the Champions League game Vs. OLYMPIAKOS during which he was responsible for all 4 Real Madrid goals in a must win game. If it weren’t for his untimely injury Real Madrid might have gotten further along in the Champions League. Before his injury he produced outstanding displays during Real Madrid’s run for the LA LIGA title. In the big games when he was fully fit he turned on his ‘fantasy futbol’ skills and made things happen for his team Vs. Valencia(away), Zaragoza(home), Villareal(home), Mallorca(home). His nagging injury limited the quality of his return during Madrid’s championship run at the end of the season, however his dramatic display Vs. Rec. Huelva(away) while still injured secured the title for Real Madrid with Barcelona and Villareal breathing down our backs. Sadly, in the season review of highlights I saw prepared by EL PAIS, Robinho is nowhere to be found, not one of his goals is used as a highlight. No mention of the Huelva or Mallorca miracles, and even when they showed highlights of the Villareal game, they don’t show Robinho rushing to the sidelines pushing aside Torres so he can throw the ball in to Gago who then lobs it to Sneijder who scores the tremendous game winner. The focus is on (surprise, surprise) how Raul won the title singlehandedly for Madrid with a little help in the end by Higuain and Robben?!? Although immensely popular with the fans, the press only has eyes for Raul and Robinho gets the worst publicity of the top 4. He has won 2 Brazilian Championships, 1 COPA AMERICA & 2 Spanish La Liga titles in a row but until he wins the Champions League he will never get the respect he deserves.
Italian Serie A stats – 15 goals 10 assists
Champions League stats – 2 goals 2 assists
Kaka had a dissapointing season in Europe and an average season in Italy as AC MILAN didn’t even qualify for next season’s Champions League. If he had this type of season with Real Madrid he would be the subject of trade rumors and extremely unpopular with the press. Kaka’s reputation remains untouched but I guess thats what several player of the years awards for last seasons performance can do. The memory of Kaka’s outstanding performances during last years Champions League were a dark cloud over C. Ronaldo’s weak displays this year in the same competition. All this much resembles the buzz around Playtech casino bonuses recently, with all the positives and negatives.
English Premiership stats – 31 goals 7 assists
Champions League stats – 8 goals 1 assist
Currently the best player in the world. Scored goals like hotcakes. Has blossomed tremendously under Ferguson’s system at Manchester United which stole the Premiership from Arsenal and the Champions League from Chelsea. The final stages of the Champions League which should have been his coronation for next years player of the year awards actually raised more questions than answers as C.Ronaldo looked a little less spectacular against European competition than he did against his Premiership rivals in England where he was a dominant force of football. Those missed penalties, 1st against Barcelona and then against Chelsea will make people question whether he has the necessary ‘mental strength’ and ‘calmness under fire’ to perform in the clutch. Still you can’t argue with success and Manchester United won the double this year bringing home the English Premiership and European Champions League titles.
Spanish La Liga stats – 10 goals 10 assists
Champions League stats – 6 goals 0 assists
Messi and the worldwide soccer media have been a match made in heaven ever since people started tagging him as the next Maradona. Coming off the bench and being given space by defenses suffering from Ronaldinho and Samuel E’to phobia definitely helped his cause in 2006 as Barcelona won the double that year. Since he has become a starter however, Barcelona haven’t won anything, and his claim to fame he has been a brilliant 3 goal display in an eventual tie with Real Madrid last year in the 2nd Classico as well as scoring 2 goals(1 brilliant against Getafe in Spain’s Copa del Rey although Barcelona was knocked out in the 2nd leg)(the other was a blatant handball)which were recognized by anyone who is familiar with Maradona’s ‘86 World Cup exploits. I hate to be the one to point out the fact that this has not been Messi’s best year although he continues getting worldwide acclaim. Messi’s time away from the pitch due to injury definitely hurt the overall quality of his season as he didn’t produce any classic displays like he did last year. Unlike Robinho, the press remain patient admirers of the young Argentinian and are devotedly waiting for him to get his groove back. However, without Ronaldinho and E’to next year all the pressure will be on him to live up to his full potential and bring titles back to Barcelona who have not won any trophys for 2 years in a row.