Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world in 2013 and now he has the Ballon d'Or to prove it. He was awarded the top individual honor at the FIFA awards on Monday, giving him proper recognition for a remarkable year.
There was never much doubt that Ronaldo would take home the award. His 69 goals were 27 more than Lionel Messi and 47 more than Franck Ribery, the other two finalists. Admittedly, a player like Ribery is tasked with doing much more than just scoring goals, but Ronaldo also had 17 assists, even with Messi and only two behind Ribery.
Even if one were to put extraordinary weight on the efficiency with which Messi scored -- he took far fewer shots than Ronaldo -- or the defensive work that Ribery did for world champions Bayern Munich, it was still nearly impossible to make an argument that either should have won the Ballon d'Or over Ronaldo.
The only argument against Ronaldo was that Real Madrid did not win a trophy in 2013, but even putting aside the ridiculous notion that he could be faulted for that, it wasn't much of an argument come November. Ronaldo put Portugal on his back in the World Cup qualifying playoff against Sweden, scoring four goals over two legs to almost single-handedly book his country's ticket to Brazil. The trip to the World Cup may not have come with a trophy, but any vague argument about how "clutch" he was or whether he did enough to help his teams win was dead and buried.
So when Pele read Ronaldo's name as the winner of the award, it was entirely predictable. It was also entirely deserved.