David Villa picks his favourites to win the Ballon d'Or

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The race for the Ballon d'Or has been heating up nicely ever since France Football released the initial 30-man shortlist for the award last month.

Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliant first six months of the year for Real Madrid and Portugal - during which he won the Champions League and Euro 2016 - has made him the heavy favourite to win the prestigious accolade for a fourth time.

However, he has struggled to match last season's exploits so far this term which has just opened the door slightly for someone else to jump in and pip the Portuguese to the award.

As well as the most obvious rival, Lionel Messi, there are also one or two other outsiders that are also in contention after enjoying an impressive 2016.

Including Antoine Griezmann, who was one of the standout stars at Euro 2016.

He guided the hosts France all the way to the final with six goals and two assists before eventually losing out to Ronaldo's Portugal.

The Atletico Madrid forward was the tournament's top scorer and was also named as the best player of Euro 2016.

But that hasn't been enough to make David Villa's cut for the Ballon d'Or.

The New York City striker has named four players he expects to lead the rankings for the award voted by journalists, but snubbed Griezmann.

Villa, who also played for Valencia, Atletico and Barcelona, spoke highly of the Catalan giants' imperious front three and think they are the stars most likely to beat Ronaldo.

"I don't know who will win but I'm sure it will be between Leo Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo," Villa said, as per Sport.

"I think Messi, Suarez, and Neymar are showing that they can play together. They are the best strikers in the world and they have a good rapport between them. They are definitely the best strike-force out there right now."

Atletico and Griezmann supporters will, of course, disagree with Villa but at the end of the day, it will be the journalists' opinion that truly counts.

Since splitting from FIFA and returning to the original 'Ballon d'Or' title, national team managers and captains no longer have a say in the voting system.

A few surprising votes in the recent past had somewhat damaged the credibility of the award but the original format has been restored this year.

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Luis Suarez
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Ballon d'Or

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