The time has finally come to find out who will be the worthy recipient of the Ballon d’Or 2014, with the results set to be announced in Zurich today. Of the three final candidates Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be the leading favourite to retain his crown, though both Lionel Messi and World Cup winner Manuel Neuer have strong shouts as well.
We start with Ronaldo, whose incredible goal scoring form has continued into this season. The Portuguese attacker helped lead Real Madrid to the Champions League trophy last term, scoring 51 goals throughout the course of the season. Never one to rest on his laurels he’s already got 33 goals in all competitions this campaign, as well as having assisted ten.
Meanwhile Messi may not have been at his scintillating best but he’s still firmly sitting in the world-class category, having enjoyed a 2014 that saw him break numerous records. Not only did he eclipse Telmo Zarra’s long-standing La Liga goal record of 251 with a hat-trick against Sevilla, but also became the all-time highest Champions League scorer, surpassing Raul’s haul of 71 with another three against APOEL.
Neuer the underdog?
Finally there’s Neuer, who could be considered an underdog given the exploits of his rivals. A profitable season last year saw him win the World Cup with Germany as well as retain the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and establish himself as the best goalkeeper in the world in the eyes of many.
If awards were handed out based on team success Neuer would be a shoo-in, and he’s kept 13 clean sheets in 17 outings for Bayern, who remain unbeaten domestically this term.