SPAIN: AT BREAKING POINT? A political and economic analysis for 2013 IBERIANS OF THE YEAR: The most influential people and groups of 2012

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Cristiano Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Barcelona and Real Madrid’s rivalry has been particularly fierce in recent months, due in great part to the tense relationship between the soccer teams’ coaches, Pep Guardiola and José Mourinho. But an equally fascinating contest has been played out between the two teams’ biggest stars: Leo Messi for Barça and Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid. Barcelona’s dominance in Spain and Europe in recent years has seen Messi eclipse the Portuguese somewhat, but there is a feeling that Real Madrid, and Ronaldo, could finally be turning the tables. It was Ronaldo’s head that scored the last-gasp goal against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final in April and under Mourinho he seems to have found a coach who understands his needs. Opponents and rival fans are less sympathetic, making the hair-gelled striker a constant target of hard tackles and abuse when on the pitch. But he doesn’t seem too bothered: “They boo me because I’m handsome, rich and a great footballer,” he says.

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