Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Real Madrid's Ronaldo favourite for Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo had a prolific 2013 for Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo must be used to giving an appreciative nod and almost resentful smile following a number of years when he has been so close to being named as the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner –the award bestowed to the best footballer in the world – but he is favourite to collect the trophy this time around.

The Real Madrid man has finished runner-up three times in the past four years since winning both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008, before the two trophies became one.

In any other generation, Ronaldo would have arguably been head and shoulders above every other player but one man has continually pipped the Portugal captain to the biggest individual honour, with Lionel Messi annually crowned as the world's best in each of the past four years.

But the 2013 award, which will be presented to the winner at a ceremony in Zurich today, is expected to be much closer run with both Ronaldo and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery presenting a strong challenge to Barcelona's Messi.

Ribery was part of an all-conquering Bayern Munich side which swept everyone away both domestically and on the European stage, hammering Messi's Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in their Champions League semi-final before going on to beat German rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Wembley final.

The 30-year-old France winger has been part of a side, along with players such as Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Phillipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, which has led the way as the Bundesliga earns plaudits across the world.

Twenty-one goals in 50 appearances for club and country in 2013 have established Ribery as a player who works hard for his team and is capable of taking a game by the scruff of the neck.

But the FIFA Ballon D'Or is for individuals, nothing to do with the number of trophies a team have won over the year, which will be a relief to Ronaldo.

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