Make no mistake, Cristiano Ronaldo may not have garnered much in the way of silverware with his club in the last year, but the Portuguese has maintained his exceptionally high standards as a competitor and goalscorer to be shortlisted once again for the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Real Madrid’s triumph at the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 falls within the period for which players will be assessed for the 2015 award, an achievement that will boost Ronaldo’s chances of retaining the Ballon d’Or he won last year, as will his customarily large haul of goals and records over the last 12 months.
Here FIFA.com picks out three especially notable highlights in yet another prolific year for the Portuguese star.
Real Madrid-Getafe: Goals galore
23 May 2015
Despite spending only 57 minutes on the pitch on the 38th and final matchday of the Spanish league season, Ronaldo nevertheless found time to score a hat-trick and to take to his haul for the campaign to 48, good enough to land him his third Pichichi trophy as La Liga’s leading marksman. It was his sixth hat-trick of the season, which also contained a four-goal salvo against Elche and a five in a drubbing of Granada. His overall tally brought him the Golden Shoe as Europe’s highest scorer, the fourth time he has won the accolade.
Armenia-Portugal: Ronaldo to the rescue
13 June 2015
There is no question that Ronaldo is the man who makes Portugal tick, a status he highlighted to perfection in this match, which came halfway through qualifying for UEFA EURO 2016. After seeing A Seleçao das Quinas fall behind to an early Armenian strike, the skipper shouldered the responsibility of steering his side through an awkward encounter, scoring a hat-trick to give them a narrow win. Three of Portugal's seven victories in the qualifiers were secured thanks to the finishing skills of Ronaldo, who top-scored for his side with five goals as they advanced directly to the finals and avoided the play-offs, a hurdle they have had to negotiate in qualifying for the three previous major international competitions.
Malmo-Real Madrid: Raul’s record eclipsed
30 September 2015
Not only did Ronaldo’s brace seal a win for Real Madrid in this UEFA Champions League match, it also took him into the club’s record books. By the time the final whistle had sounded, the Portuguese had become Real’s all-time leading goalscorer with 324 goals in 308 matches, a tally he has since added to and which took him past that of the previous wearer of the No7 Blanco jersey, Raul Gonzalez, who racked up 323 goals in his 741-match Madrid career. Ronaldo’s first goal of the night against the Swedes was also the 500th of his professional career. “When I pulled on this shirt for the first time, I never thought I’d end up being the highest goalscorer at the biggest club in the world,” said the grateful Portuguese days later, after receiving a tribute from the team.