Ronaldo backs rival Messi for Ballon d'Or

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The Independent Football

Cristiano Ronaldo believes that Barcelona play better football than his Real Madrid side and he has tipped Lionel Messi to win the 2009 Ballon d'Or.

The Portugal winger, who joined Real Madrid from Manchester United for a world record €94m (£86m) in the close season, won the Ballon d'Or last year and was included in the 30-strong shortlist for the award formerly known as the European Footballer of the Year, which was released on Sunday.

"Barcelona play better football [than Real], but why?" the 24-year-old told France Football magazine in an interview released yesterday. "Because they have been together for several seasons, not two months. Barça are better than us today but the real question is who will be in front at the end of the season?"

The winner of the Ballon d'Or will be announced on 1 December and Ronaldo said that while Xavi and Samuel Eto'o were strong contenders, Argentina's Messi was likely to be the recipient.

"He's the favourite. He won the Champions League, the [Spanish] league. Why not him? If he wins it, he will have deserved it."

Arguably the world's finest player when on song, Ronaldo has been hampered by injury at Real and is struggling to recapture the form he showed at Manchester United. Ronaldo picked up an ankle injury playing for Portugal earlier this month and is set to be sidelined for several more weeks.

He said, however, that he was hungry for more titles and felt he had picked the right club to do that. "I must do again all I managed to do at Manchester, win the Champions League, league and cup titles," he said. "I'm convinced I'm in the right club to do that. I'm starting a new career, I feel like a baby."

* The Fifa president Sepp Blatter has revealed he will stand for re-election in 2011, insisting that he "has not yet achieved [his] mission in football." The Swiss supremo has held his position since 1998 when he took over from Joao Havelange and despite often being a controversial figure, he is currently enjoying his third term. However, the 73-year-old told Gazzetta dello Sport today he plans to continue for some time. "I've not finished my mission in football yet," he said. "I need more time. I hope that in 2011 the FIFA congress once more has faith in me, otherwise I'll go back to my village. Football is my life."

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