Cristiano Ronaldo leads race for Ballon d'Or

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The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious individual prize in the footballing world today and Cristiano Ronaldo will, this year, battle to keep his crown ahead of Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer.

Ronaldo ended four years of Messi dominance when he clinched the award at the last ceremony, his second triumph, and is the favourite to emerge victorious once again.

But why have each of these three players been nominated?

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo's career remains on a tremendous rise that shows few signs of slowing down. Not only has he been the top scorer in Europe in 2014, he has also played an important role in guiding Real Madrid to their 10th UCL title.

He won a plethora of awards and also went on to break plenty of records. While he may have flattered to deceive during the World Cup in Brazil, his club exploits more than make up for it.

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Lionel Messi

The Argentinian genius played excellently for both club and country but somehow seemed to fall at the final hurdle in each case.

His goal scoring exploits for Barcelona almost led them to the Liga title but for the heroics of Atletico Madrid. And he, along with Angel di Maria, waltzed their way to the World Cup Final in Brazil and would have won it if not for an iconic miss by Argentina's talisman.

However, his hard-work was enough to earn him the Golden Ball in Brazil, albeit a highly controversial one. He has since broken the goalscoring records in La Liga and the Champions League.

Manuel Neuer

It is no mean feat to win the best player of the year award in a team that conquered the world. But o do it while being a keeper is truly extra ordinary. But then Manuel Neuer is nothing less than that.

He kept the most amount of clean sheets and conceded the least goals in 2014 in Europe and his superlative performances in goal were a key part of Germany's World Cup triumph.

Also, taking into account the fact that he won as many trophies as a certain No. 7 from Portugal makes him one of the strongest contenders for the prize.

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Ballon d'Or
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Manuel Neuer
Real Madrid

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