UEFA POTY: Ronaldo vs Buffon & Messi vs Buffon stats [2017]

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    CristianoRonaldoMessiandGigiBufffon

    It’s that time of the year where the finest players in the sport will receive their due recognitions. Who will stand tall among the pack in this year’s edition?

    On August 15, UEFA publicized the names of the three nominees selected for the 2016/17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award. Per the shortlist, either one of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon could mount the podium and collect the accolade at the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco, come Thursday, August 24.

    Ronaldo vs Buffon in 2017

    Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Champions League final soccer match between Juventus and Real Madrid at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday June 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

    Unlike seasons past, fans have been conversant with who is likely to pick up the award in this year’s edition since the UEFA Champions League Final played in Cardiff over two months ago. The game that was dubbed a decider and a possible avenue for Buffon to upset Cristiano Ronaldo in order to clinch every major award last season, instead, sealed the fate of the Portuguese superstar.

    Having endured a mediocre stint in the group stages which resulted in him trailing his arch-nemesis Lionel Messi 11-2 on the Champions League top-scorers’ leaderboard, the resurgent forward enjoyed a fruitful spell in the knockout stages to send a statement to his antagonists.

    After consequently scoring seven goals in the quarter and semi-finals against Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, Ronaldo sank Buffon’s hopes of retiring with a Champions League medal by scoring a brace against the veteran Juventus shot-stopper, thereby sealing his fate as the highest goalscorer in the campaign with 12 goals.

    While at it, the forward took his overall tally against the Italian goalie to seven in five matches. His heroics on the international stage was the final piece of the puzzle as the 32-year-old forward had already guided Los Blancos to their first domestic league title in five years a week earlier.

    It is also worth noting that while on his goal rampage, the former Manchester United winger became the first player to net 100 UEFA club competition goals and 100 UEFA Champions League goals in a space of one week.

    At the moment, the Real Madrid all-time goalscorer is odds on to become the first player to win the award on three occasions since its inception in 2010. Here is the summary of the forward’s numbers across all competitions for Real Madrid in the 2016/2017 season.

    • Honors:

    UEFA Champions League, La Liga

    • Domestic league:

    Appearances: 29
    Goals: 25
    Assists: 6

    • UEFA Champions League: 

    Appearances: 13
    Goals: 12
    Assists: 6

    Ronaldo’s momentary adversary Gigi Buffon, on the other hand, played a key role in Juventus winning the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia last season. His performance in the Champions League might be undervalued due to his fate coming against Cristiano but that does not discredit the fact that he was superb before meeting the Real Madrid marksman.

    Buffon won a domestic double with Juventus in the Serie A and Coppa Italia

    The 39-year-old goalkeeper had an impressive 0.3 goal concession ratio across the 11 matches he featured in before coming against Real Madrid in the European competition. Here are Buffon’s numbers from the 2016/2017 season:

    • Honors:

    Italian Serie A, Coppa Italia

    • Domestic league:

    Appearances: 30
    Clean sheets: 13

    • UEFA Champions League:

    Appearances: 12
    Clean sheets: 9

     

    Messi vs Buffon in 2017

    Lionel Messi vs Buffon

    Unless a miracle actually happens, it will be very cockeyed of anyone to think Cristiano Ronaldo will lose the crown to either of these two incredible performers. Of course, their season-long input cannot be overemphasized but there’s a threshold their contribution cannot surpass.

    Lionel Messi started the season strong but almost fell out of the boat when the tide became capricious. His ineffectiveness in front of Buffon, yet again, became very costly as his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League in the quarter-finals via 3:0 first-leg loss to the Old Ladies. That withstanding, the 30-year-old has failed to score against the Italian shot-stopper in four meetings.

    Lionel Messi against Buffon in Juventus' 3:0 victory in the UEFA Champions League
    Messi has failed to score against Buffon in four outings. Their most recent meeting was in the 2017 ICC

    In all, and with this as a foundation, it is safe to say that Buffon looks like a potential first runner-up for the UEFA Best Player of 2017 award if his feat on the domestic front is also perused. Aside Lionel Messi averaging more than a goal per game across both domestic and international competitions, he has only his Copa del Rey winners medal to show for.

    Here is a summary how Lionel Messi fared in the season past:

    • Honors:

    Copa del Rey

    • Domestic league:

    Appearances: 34
    Goals: 37
    Assists: 9

    • UEFA Champions League:

    Appearances: 9
    Goals: 11
    Assists: 2

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