The former World Cup-winning captain believes Lionel Messi had a disappointing year by his own standards and has hailed Manuel Neuer as a goalkeeping pioneer
Former Bayern Munich and Germany star Lotthar Matthaus is worried that Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal record will “outshine everything” when it comes to the race for the 2014 Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo, who won the prize for the second time in January of this year, set a new record for goals in the Champions League as he helped fire Real Madrid to European and Copa del Rey glory last season.
The 29-year-old has already scored a staggering 28 goals so far in 2014-15 as Madrid have set a new club record of consecutive victories to move top of La Liga and ensure their place in the Champions League knockouts.
And Matthaus, who won the award in 1990, believes the Portugal star has done enough to win ahead of Lionel Messi, who he feels has not been at his best in the past year despite recently breaking both the Liga and Champions League goalscoring records.
“My personal concern is that Ronaldo will win the award. His goal ratio is unique, he sets new records,” he told reporters at an event hosted by Sky.
“Normally the World Cup should outshine everything, but in the end Ronaldo’s goals will outshine everything. To me he is the favourite, because he fascinates us every week.
“Messi is only the underdog because he was injured too often and was not in his best shape at the World Cup. For me he was not so strong during the tournament. Fifa’s experts voted him player of the tournament, but that was a gift. I think he shook his head himself when he got the trophy up there after the final.”
Manuel Neuer is the final nominee for the 2014 prize after his triumphs with Germany and Bayern Munich this year and Matthaus has hailed the former Schalke man as the pioneering goalkeeper of his generation.
“It is a great feeling [to be nominated],” continued the 1990 World Cup-winning captain. “Manuel invented a new keeper style. He is the 11th player on the field, sort of a sweeper. And at the World Cup he had the perfect stage to show it.
“For South American teams his style was something new. They did not know him, since the German Bundesliga is not so popular there. Now Neuer is known outside of Europe, too. He was a major factor in Germany winning the World Cup.”