FIFA Ballon d’Or three man shortlist

Manuel Neuer - Lionel Messi - Christiano Ronaldo

The FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist is now down to three players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Manuel Neuer. Ronaldo was last year’s winner and he is the favourite to win it this year too. If he does lift the award, he will have won it twice placing him just behind three-time winner Messi.

The award started in 2010 when the men’s FIFA World Player of the Year award merged with France’s Football’s Ballon d’Or. If we include FIFA World Player of the Year stats with the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, Ronaldo is currently on two with Messi on four which he had won consecutively. Clearly, if Ronaldo wants to be considered the greatest player in the world, winning this FIFA Ballon d’Or will be crucial and will place him one behind Messi who many consider to be the greatest of his generation.

This year has been a standout year for Ronaldo. He has scored 55 goals and provided 19 assists for real Madrid and Portugal in just 55 appearances. That is one goal per game. He led Real Madrid to win the Champions League, Copa del Rey, and European Super Cup. He was hardly noticed in the World Cup however, but that is partly explained by his team not being a powerhouse on the world stage.

Messi’s stats this year while impressive are not quite at the level of Ronaldo’s at club level. Even by Messi’s own standards it has not been a great year for him. He netted 52 goals and provided 21 assists for both club and country. However, Messi was instrumental in Argentina making the final of the World Cup and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. He created the most chances, successful dribbling runs, most deliveries into the box, and most through-balls of any other player in the tournament.

Bayern goal keeper, Neuer also had a great year. He won both the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal before winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany. He also won the Golden Glove award for being the best goalkeeper in the tournament. He is now the third goalkeeper to be on the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist in the 21st century. Lev Yashin is the only keeper to win the award which was back in 1963.

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