Monday, 16 January 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi & a little-known Latvian - the race begins now for the European Golden Shoe


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Who will emerge victorious in 2011-12? There is a familiar battle at the top between the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars, but there could be a surprise challenger too.
The mainstream European season is only at the midway point but already Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is chasing down the early-term leaders in the ESM (European Sports Media) Golden Shoe rankings.
The Portugal star, who managed to beat Lionel Messi for at least this particular prize last term, did not register a goal at the weekend in Madrid’s 2-1 comeback win at Malaga. But as long as Madrid keep on winning in La Liga he is virtually guaranteed to take this classic personal duel right to the wire in May.
Last season Ronaldo hit a Spanish Liga record of 40 goals, having won the Golden Shoe for the first time in 2007-08 with 31 goals in the Premier League for Manchester United. Barcelona’s Messi was runner-up with 31 goals and Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez was third with 28.
Only one winner in the last 14 years since the competition was reorganised to focus on achievement in the major leagues has topped 40 goals and that was Sporting CP's Brazilian centre-forward Mario Jardel. He fired home 42 goals in the Portuguese championship in 2001-02.

Ronaldo's triumph last year was the third season in succession in which La Liga had provided the winner after Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan won with 32 goals in 2008-09 and then Barcelona's Leo Messi came out on top with 34 goals in 2009-10.
The Golden Shoe (or Golden Boot) has been up for grabs since the early 1960s when sportswear company Adidas teamed up with the Paris weekly France Football to come up with a prize which rewarded the overall leading marksman in European league football at the end of each season.
This was fine while the legendary likes of Benfica’s Eusebio and Bayern Munich’s Gerd Muller in West Germany were winning the competition. But the sponsor’s executives were less than happy when Cypriot Sotiris Kaiafas turned up as winner in the mid-1970s. Mild irritation grew to serious concern when various Bulgarian and Romanian winners cornered the award amid reports of match manipulation.
Corruption in football is nothing new. The final straw was the victory of Dinamo Bucharest’s Romanian striker Rodion Camataru in 1987. He scored 20 of his 44 goals in the last six matches of the season as Dinamo swapped match points to relegation strugglers against goals for their centre-forward.
France Football pulled out at this point and the award was put on ice until Adidas accepted a revival proposal from the European Sports Magazines association, which included one top football publication from all the major continental nations, plus London-based World Soccer.
They came up with a formula which abandoned the simple goals total system and applied a multiplier to a player’s goals dependent on his club’s ranking in the UEFA coefficient system. Thus a goal in Spain is worth twice as much as in, say, Cyprus, with goals in most other countries falling in between and rating a multiplier of 1.5.
Hence Cristiano Ronaldo, last season, topped the table with 40 goals and thus 80 points. No player before him had ever reached such a high points total.
2011-12 GOLDEN SHOE STANDINGS

POS
PLAYER
CLUB
GOALS
POINTS
1
Aleksandrs Cekulajevs
JK Trans Narva
46
46
2
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
21
42
3
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
19
38
4
Seydou Doumbia
CSKA Moscow
24
36
-
Robin van Persie
Arsenal
18
36
6
Mario Gomez
Bayern Munich
16
32
7
Burak Yilmaz
Trabzonspor
21
31.5
8
Demba Ba
Newcastle
15
30
-
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Schalke
15
30
10
Sergio Aguero
Manchester City
14
28
-
Olivier Giroud
Montpellier
14
28
-
Gonzalo Higuain
Real Madrid
14
28
-
Lukas Podolski
Koln
14
28
Standings correct as of Monday, January 16, 2012


The Golden Shoe runs in line with the traditional western European season calendar, i.e. autumn to spring. But countries which run spring-to-autumn are not excluded and all their players’ goals are counted for the season which finishes midway through the ‘standard’ term.
This is about to throw up an extra complication for the ESM magazines to consider because of the Russian's decision to run an 18-month season to bring the country into line with western Europe. How will the Russian league top scorer’s goals be assessed?
A decision is awaited and cannot long be delayed, not least because one of the current leaders is CSKA Moscow’s Seydou Doumbia who had scored 24 goals (at 1.5) for 36 points by the Russian winter break.
No Russian club has ever boasted the winner of the Golden Boot. If the season in its entirety is taken into account, then Ronaldo and Messi may find a surprise contender stealing their thunder come May.
By Keir Radnedgem, Goal.com



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