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October 26, 2011

Messi is the favorite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or award

It would be the third award for the Argentine, whose football keeps on amusing the planet. Cristiano Ronaldo has given his best, but he is still one step behind ‘La Pulga.’

By Andrew Hill

The 50 nominees for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or award were unveiled by the ruling football entity FIFA. There were no big surprises, especially when for third year in a row there seems to be no debate about who the winner will be. In the last two seasons the Argentine Lionel Messi delighted the world with his talent and proven to be one step above the rest with his 47 goals and 11 assists in the 2008/09 course, and 53 goals and 24 assists in the following one. This year he is confirming his condition as World No. 1 with 16 goals and 10 assists in 14 games, arising as the favorite to win the award on January 9, 2012, when the ceremony will be held in Zurich, Switzerland.

On December 5 the list of 50 players will be reduced to only three footballers that last year saw for the first time ever had three team members from Barcelona competing for the award: the winner Messi and two Spaniards: No. 2 Andres Iniesta and third place Xavi Hernandez. It will be hard to see the three of them again a Zurich, since Real Madrid’s striker Cristiano Ronaldo had a wonderful season worthy of an individual recognition after scoring 40 goals in La Liga.

Barcelona is the team that has the most nominees with 9: the already mentioned Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, along with Spaniards Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas and David Villa, Brazilian Daniel Alves and Frenchman Eric Abidal. They almost double the number of players chosen from their archrival Real Madrid that will be represented by: Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira from Germany, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas from Spain, besides the Portuguese Ronaldo.

Only three players have won this award three times: Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Michel Platini.

Brazilian rising star Neymar also made it to the list of the top 50 players of the world, which is a little bit awkward, considering that the award has always been given to a footballer from a European club. We cannot hide his talent, but to be distinguished as the best player in the world it has to be demonstrated in one of the top leagues from The Old Continent.

Other big names such as Wayne Rooney from England, Spaniard David Silva, Argentine Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero, Swedish Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Belgian Eden Hazard, Mexican Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, and the Dutch quartet: Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart also figure in the list.

Only three players have won this award three times: Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten from the Netherlands and Michel Platini from France, out of whom only the Frenchman won them consecutively, feat that could be repeated by Messi.

Juventus and Milan are the teams whose players have received the most Ballon d’Or awards with eight apiece, one more than Barcelona that could be moving into their select group if Messi repeats as World No. 1.

About the Author
When it comes to sports, Andrew Hill translates his passion into truthful and objective information of interest for the sports betting industry. As of today he specializes in the coverage of European soccer and NCAA basketball for BetIAS’ website.