The field of contenders has been narrowed down and the final shortlist has been revealed. The following three players remain in the running for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015. Join us for the official ceremony on 11 January 2016 to find out which of these three stars will be handed the coveted award and recognized as the best individual talent for the past year in world football.
After winning the third FIFA Ballon d’Or of his career at the start of 2015, Cristiano Ronaldo continued to perform at his very best, racking up the goals to end the league season as its highest scorer with 48 in all, his biggest haul in Spain to date. He very nearly ended the UEFA Champions League season as its leading marksmen as well, tying with Lionel Messi on ten goals but serving up fewer assists. Cristiano nevertheless etched his name in the Real Madrid history books by becoming the club’s leading all-time scorer, eclipsing fellow Blancolegends Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul. The Portuguese also enjoyed a productive year on the international front, skippering ASeleçao das Quinas to direct qualification for UEFA EURO 2016, a relief for him and his team-mates following three consecutive appearances in EURO and World Cup play-offs.
The Argentinian star recaptured the form and sharpness that has brought him four FIFA Ballons d’Or to date. Barcelona’s leading marksman in the league with 43 goals, he fired his side to yet another title and also top-scored in their victorious UEFA Champions League campaign, contributing ten goals and six assists. One of the highlights of another hugely productive season came in the Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao, with Messi slaloming his way past several opponents on a long, mazy run before conjuring up a clinical finish inside the box. The elusive forward also played a decisive part in Argentina’s run to the final of the Copa America Chile 2015, serving up three assists, the joint-highest tally in the competition along with Chile’s Jorge Valdivia.
Coming into his own in his second season with Barcelona, Neymar consolidated his position as one third of a lethal three-pronged attack. Following the shining example set by Lionel Messi, the Brazilian was his side’s second-highest scorer in their league, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League treble-winning campaign, contributing 39 goals in 51 matches. Troubled by injury in his debut year, Neymar wasBarça’s third-most used player in the league last season. Now 23, he is keen to continue making history with his club, commenting after their UEFA Super Cup win that he has changed his game and his way of life. A devilish dribbler and deadly finisher, the gifted forward has for the last two years been the star act of a Brazil side that is now looking to rebuild after its FIFA World Cup™ woes on home soil in 2014.