After winning Copa América, Lionel Messi is now the firm favourite to win a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or. He first won the prestigious award in 2009 beating his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo by 240 points. However, Messi has also lost a few times in the Ballon d’Or race. In this article, we will take a look at five instances when Messi finished second in the Ballon d’Or rankings.
#5 2008 – 281 points
In 2008, Messi finished third in the Ballon d’Or rankings, an improvement from a third-place finish in 2007. In 2007-08, he became a certified superstar and was no longer a “child prodigy”. He scored 14 goals in La Liga, but did not make a huge mark in the Champions League.
On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed a career-best season, scoring 31 goals in the Premier League and winning the Champions League. Ronaldo’s trophies meant that he was the outright favourite for the Ballon d’Or, and he did win the award comfortably.
#4 2013 – 24.72% votes
Unlike the previous seasons, there was no clear favourites for the Ballon d’Or in 2013. Franck Ribery was said to be the leading candidate for the award after helping Bayern Munich to their first continental treble. However, Ronaldo won his second Ballon d’Or due to his brilliant performances for the national team.
Messi finished second despite scoring 46 goals in the La Liga. He also scored 8 goals in the Champions League but Barcelona were thumped by Bayern Munich in the UCL semi-final. Messi won the La Liga but Barcelona’s shortcomings in the UCL proved to be the difference in the 2013 Ballon d’Or rankings.
#3 2014 – 15.76% votes
2013-14 is Messi’s worst season in recent memory as he and his team Barcelona looked off-colour for the majority of the campaign. He still scored 28 goals in La Liga and 8 goals in the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo won the Copa del Rey and Champions League and was the firm favorite for the award before the World Cup began in Brazil.
Against all odds, Messi carried Argentina to a runner-up finish. He was also awarded the “Golden Ball” for his excellent performances in the tournament. But this was not enough to change his Ballon d’Or fortunes, as Ronaldo won the award comfortably.
#2 2016 – 316 points
After a historic second treble in 2014-15, Messi won a domestic double in 2015-16. Due to off the pitch issues, Messi was not at his best in the league but kept providing crucial assists throughout the campaign. In the UCL, Barcelona were eliminated by Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals.
But the summer of 2016 ended in heartbreak for Messi as Argentina lost the Copa América final on penalties. Ronaldo won the Champions League and EURO, thus becoming a clear favourite for the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldo finished with 745 points in the Ballon d’Or race and secured a landslide victory over Messi.
#1 2017 – 670 points
In the 2016-17 campaign, Real Madrid and Barcelona were once again tied up in a tight battle for the La Liga title. In the end, Real Madrid won by a margin of three points and retained the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo once again grabbed the limelight with a brace in the Champions League final.
Lionel Messi won the Pichichi award and was also named the man of the match in the Copa del Rey final. But Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or as he was the UCL top scorer and League winner. Messi would avenge his defeat two years later by lifting the Ballon d’Or for the sixth time.