So the best football player on the planet for 2014 will be either of the three; Cristiano Ronaldo, Manuel Neuer, Lionel Messi! As the shortlist has just come in for the gala event that would take place in Zurich on 12th January 2015, the rumors mills have gone into overdrive with the guessing game as to who might win the pretigious Ballon D’or 2014 award.

Let us have a look at the the chances of each individual for winning the Ballon D’or 2014 award – 

Manuel Neuer

The German shot stopper has been on the top of the game and is setting the benchmark for the rest of the goal keepers across the world. Since his transfer from Schalke to Bayern Munich, he has turned the hostilities into love and adulation by his performances for club and country. This past year was marked with success for the 6’4” tall goalkeeper. His 15 clean sheets, 50 saves and 90 percent of distribution accuracy helped the Bavarian Giants win the Bundesliga in addition to the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup. He added another feather in his cap with his sweeper-keeper role in the World Cup Finals in Brazil which was backed by impressive numbers; that included 4 clean sheets, 80 percent distribution accuracy and 16 saves and in the process helped Germany in winning the coveted World Cup Trophy.

Lionel Messi

Four times Ballon d’Or winner Argentine has had a trophy less season with the Catalan giants. However it would be unfair to single him out for the misfortunes of Barcelona. His numbers did back him as an individual contributor where he scored 28 times, made 11 assists and created 75 chances in La Liga in the last campaign. However he did lead the Albiceleste till the finals of the world cup in Brazil and scored 4 goals and made 1 assist and created 23 chances. Lionel Messi being awarded as the tournament’s best player was met with skepticism and branded as a Marketing gimmick, however he played his part but at a lower level in comparison to his earlier glittering performances.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Till couple of years back as Ronaldo was expected to get toppled by Lio Messi at the final stage for any award, but his remarkable run, never say die spirit and goal scoring prowess has made him stand in the same league as the Argentine. If he was good at Manchester United, he is definitely a finished world class product at Real Madrid and is one of the greatest to have played the game with Messi in this current generation of players. CR7’s record goal scoring European campaign ensured that Real Madrid landed the La Decima. His blistering start to the campaign has ensured that Real Madrid have won 16 on the trot after a shaky start. At the biggest stage in Brazil he was not fully fit and with an average side for company he was not expected to do wonders unlike Messi, however he will like to have one more go at the elusive title at Russia in 2016. Although in 2016 he will be 31 and will he have the same intensity is for us to wait and watch.

Where is the Ballon D’Or heading?

It will be unfair to have a clear winner at this stage; however it looks more likely to go down the wire between Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer. The award is based on votes by coaches and captains of international teams, as well as journalists from around the world and Cristiano Ronaldo was looking a clear favorite till the summer and his start to new campaign has helped his case, but with every passing day stalwarts from the game such as Van Gaal, Michel Platini, Johann Cruyff have backed a German to win it and this case it would be Neuer. In the past 20 years (taking into account FIFA World Player of the year award) the closest a goalkeeper has come to winning the award was the German legend Oliver Kahn who lost it to eventual World Cup winner Brazilian Ronaldo. In the past two decades only player from the backline to have won it was World Cup winning Italian Captain Fabio Cannavaro.

So the odds and past history favor Cristiano Ronaldo, but it would be great for Neuer to win it this time around!

FIFA also confirmed 15 forwards shortlisted in the FIFA Fifpro World XI: Sergio Aguero, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Diego Costa, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi, Thomas Muller, Neymar, Marco Reus, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez 

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