England football fans clashed with riot police in Porto on Wednesday as the ugly side of the attractive game reared its head once again, a day before the national team's Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands.
He scored twice in the last three minutes to complete the 53rd hat-trick of his career and the seventh for his country.
Ronaldo himself told UEFA's website that his preparation and work ethic had helped him defy his age.
The two players appear to be the only real contenders, with bookmakers placing the next most likely candidates as Liverpool duo Mo Salah and Sadio Mane at 20/1 and Cristiano Ronaldo and Raheem Sterling at 25/1.
The Juventus star won't be wanting a repeat of the last time Portugal had a final on home soil.
Cristiano Ronaldo is accustomed to scoring goals in big games, so it's no surprise he was at it again on Wednesday.
"I think the best that we can do is keeping the ball, to have good ball possession because when we have the ball he can do nothing in attack".
His transformative effect has brought back the glory days at Anfield, capped by winning the Champions League last weekend.
The first meeting of Van Dijk and Ronaldo saw the Dutch skipper block a shot behind for a corner, with Jose Fonte rising highest to draw a fairly simple save out of Jasper Cillessen.
Riot police charged England fans in the centre of Porto after beer glasses were thrown in the special fan zone set up for the Nations League finals.
The Netherlands needed extra time to see off England but if you fancy the Dutch to get the job done in normal time then they are 5/2 (Bet 365) to do so.
Ronaldo may be keen for revenge against De Ligt as he also scored the victor when Ajax shocked Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals this season. But there is more at stake for Van Dijk this weekend than merely the safeguarding his record of resisting all attempts to dribble past him this season.
"I hope he achieves it because it would be great for Portuguese football".
Needing to beat the number one ranked side in the world, Belgium, by two goals in their final Nations League group game, Switzerland trailed 2-0 before roaring back for a thrilling 5-2 win.
Should the Dutchman win the award, he would become the first defender to win the Ballon d'Or since Italy's Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva is coming off the back off a magnificent season for Manchester City, while there is also a great deal of anticipation for 19-year-old Benfica starlet João Félix to make his long-awaited senior worldwide debut. "But England were better in the first half and all in all I'd say that we showed a solid performance".
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