Ballon d'Or: The Cristiano Ronaldo years

Cristiano Ronaldo got the better of Lionel Messi in this year's Ballon d'Or to continue their dominance of the award over the past decade.

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d'or award on Thursday, pulling level with long-time rival Lionel Messi.   -  Getty Images

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo pulled level with long-time rival Lionel Messi after collecting his fifth Ballon d’Or on Thursday.

The award, which recognises the best player in the world, has been shared by the formidable duo since 2008, with Ronaldo now celebrating two consecutive wins.

A number of players have come close to breaking their stranglehold on the award over the past decade, but sustained brilliance and spectacular feats of goal-scoring ensured their iron grip is as tight as ever.

READ: Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d'Or to equal Messi

Here, we shine a spotlight on the five breathtaking seasons when Ronaldo got the better of his bitter rival.

2008: The 2007-08 season with Manchester United provided the first evidence of the Portuguese’s soon-to-be-common eye-popping goal tallies, netting 42 times in 49 games. That haul led to United lifting both the Premier League and the Champions League in a memorable season for Alex Ferguson's side.

2013: It is testament to Messi’s stunning form at Barcelona that Ronaldo had to wait another five years for his next Ballon d'Or. No-one could say that he did not deserve it, though – a whopping 59 goals in 50 games in the calendar year confirming his status as one of the finest players to ever play the game.

2014: Ronaldo continued to plunder goals at an incredible rate in 2014, but this time they led to a host of silverware for his club. His record of 56 goals in 51 games helped Madrid win the Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and the one the side wanted so badly – a 10th UEFA Champions League title.

2016: Another impressive club return of 44 goals in 42 games helped Madrid claim another Champions League triumph, as well as Super Cup and Club World Cup trophies, but his crowning glory was leading Portugal to an unlikely, and emotional, European Championship win.

ALSO READ: Ballon d'Or: The 'Ronaldo Final' will go down as one of the Champions League greats

2017: A return of 37 goals so far in 2017 might well be down on the numbers we are used to seeing, but his talismanic presence helped Madrid win both La-Liga and the Champions League last season – something that clearly held sway with this year’s Ballon d’Or voters.

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