FIFA Ballon d’Or front-runners have been named. The list which includes Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr., also features the current holder of the prestigious honor, Cristiano Ronaldo. Speculations have already started as to who will win the Ballon d’Or this time, and the list has been shortlisted from an initial list of 23.
Barcelona and Real Madrid players dominated the list this year. Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or early this year as well as the previous year. Messi was chosen the top pick for the award for four consecutive years before Ronaldo claimed the Ballon d’Or. Both Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the prestigious honor for seven years now.
ESPN sources quote, “Ronaldo (45), Lionel Messi (44) and Neymar (41) have scored more goals in all competitions in 2015 than any other player in Europe’s top 5 leagues.” Despite Messi’s knee injury, which sidelined him for seven weeks, he remained one of the three choices for the elite award.
Ronaldo toppled Raul to become Madrid’s all-time top goal scorer this year and was chosen as Europe’s best footballer. Neymar is “the outsider of the three to win the Ballon d’Or in the first year he has made the shortlist,” as per sources. He is the highest goal scorer for Barca in the La Liga this season with 14 goals to his name and has been in prime form along with his counterpart Luis Suarez.
Bayern Munich’s Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was also in the run for Ballon d’Or this year.
ESPN FC notes, “The vote for the award will be made by the captains and head coaches of each men’s national team as well as by international media representatives selected by French publication France Football.”
The other Ballon d’Or lists include the “women’s Ballon d’Or” naming Carli Lloyd (U.S.), Aya Niyama (Japan) and Celia Sasic (Germany) as top choices.
The Puskas Award, for the best goal of the year, will consider Alessandro Florenzi (Roma vs. Barcelona), Messi (Barcelona vs. Atletico Bilbao) and Wendell Lira (Goianesia vs. Atletico-GO).
Final list for Men’s coach of the year include Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique (Barcelona) and Jorge Sampaoli (Chile). For the women’s coach of the year, Jill Ellis (U.S.), Mark Sampson (England) and Norio Sasaki (Japan) have been shortlisted.
According to the official FIFA website, “All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on Jan. 11, 2016 during a televised show to be streamed live on FIFA.com and FIFA on YouTube.”