2013 belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo

Posted by John Carr

Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick in the second leg of Portugal’s World Cup qualifying playoff against Sweden single-handedly pushed his nation through to the tournament and was a late-in-the-year performance that also strengthened his bid for the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year awards. However, as legendary as that performance was, it is not the only reason that he was the sport’s standout player of the year.

Here are five other notes that tell us why 2013 belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo:

• Ronaldo had the most productive year of his career, scoring 69 goals in 59 games for club and country in the 2013 calendar year. Not only did he lead La Liga with 38 goals, 10 more than second-place Lionel Messi, but he scored 10 goals in nine games while captaining the Portuguese national team.

• The Portuguese star scored a staggering 59 goals in 50 games across all competitions for Real Madrid, 15 of which came in the UEFA Champions League, breaking Messi’s record of 13 in a year. He also beat the record of eight goals in the group stages of the competition, which was held by Hernan Crespo, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Filippo Inzaghi, by scoring nine.

• Ronaldo was one of the most lethal players in the game when on the attack in 2013. He scored 15 go-ahead goals in La Liga, more than any other player in any of the four major European leagues in the calendar year. He also scored more goals than anyone else in the Champions League when the game was tied with six such strikes. His 216 touches in the attacking penalty area were the second most among all players in the four major European leagues behind Luis Suarez’ 272.

• Even though Real Madrid is full of standout players, Ronaldo makes his teammates better. Across the four major European leagues, he was tied with Alexis Sanchez and Franck Ribery for the fourth-most chances created in the attacking penalty area with 22.

• Ronaldo not only shone as a leader on a club stacked with star power this year, he was a leader on the international stage as well. Aside from his clutch performance against Sweden in November, he became the youngest player to make 100 international appearances for Portugal. He also became the nation’s joint all-time top scorer, tying Pauleta’s mark of 47 strikes.

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