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Cristiano Ronaldo is widely expected to retain the Ballon d’Or at the 2017 award ceremony in Paris on Thursday.
The Portugal international should be rewarded after helping Real Madrid retain the UEFA Champions League and win La Liga last season.
If he wins, Ronaldo will equal the haul of five titles won by his great rival, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
While the La Liga stars have won the last nine awards, there are some Premier League players in the running, including Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane and winger Eden Hazard, who helped Chelsea win last season’s title.
Here are the schedule and viewing details:
Date: Thursday, December 7
Time: 6:45 p.m. GMT/1:45 p.m. ET.
TV Info: L’Equipe TV.
Live Stream: lequipe.fr
MailOnline’s Dan Ripley has noted how L’Equipe‘s television station is currently the only broadcaster set to screen the ceremony which will be hosted by former Newcastle United and Tottenham winger David Ginola.
Here are the finalists:
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
- Lionel Messi, Barcelona
- Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain
- Eden Hazard, Chelsea
- Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur
- Luka Modric, Real Madrid
- Paulo Dybala, Juventus
- Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich
- N’Golo Kante, Chelsea
- Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City
- David De Gea, Manchester United
- Marcelo, Real Madrid
- Mats Hummels, Bayern Munich
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Borussia Dortmund
- Luis Suarez, Barcelona
- Edinson Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain
- Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool
- Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid
- Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid
- Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid
- Toni Kroos, Real Madrid
- Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain
- Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus
- Isco, Real Madrid
- Sadio Mane, Liverpool
- Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus
- Radamel Falcao, AS Monaco
- Dries Mertens, Napoli
Ronaldo to Win Again
This award may have lost some of its prestige with the introduction of the Best FIFA Awards this year. The decision was taken after the world governing body ended its partnership with France Football.
Things may have changed, but Ronaldo will still want to collect this prize for a fifth time; it would mean one more argument in his favour in the debate over who is the better player, Real’s No. 7 or Messi.
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Ronaldo has the strongest case to win after his exploits last season. He came alive during the knockout phase of the Champions League, saving his best performances for the biggest games.
Those games included the semi-final against Bayern Munich, during which the 32-year-old scored five goals over the two legs. He was also the catalyst in the final, bagging a brace to help beat Juventus.
Ronaldo’s influence was just as prominent as Los Blancos claimed their first domestic title since 2012.
Of the other finalists, Messi is the most likely to deny the former Manchester United man after scoring 48 goals in La Liga and the Champions League. However, the Argentina international’s case will be hurt by two things.
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First, Barca only won the Copa del Rey last season, so Messi doesn’t have the silverware to back his case. Second, Ronaldo claimed this year’s Best FIFA award, so his excellent season has already been recognised by one group of voters.
Even so, it’s not a formality that the Ballon d’Or will go to the player who won FIFA’s award, according to Andrew Dickson of Sky Sports:
“Just because Ronaldo won The Best, it should not be taken as an indication he will collect the Ballon d’Or as well and the two prizes and wholly independent from each other. Indeed, several newspapers printed a leaked photograph earlier this month which appeared to show Messi on the front cover of the December issue of France Football being proclaimed as the winner.”
If Messi can’t get past Ronaldo, Neymar might. The Brazil international swapped Barcelona for Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record transfer this summer.
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His terrific form since joining Les Parisiens, 15 goals and nine assists in just 17 starts, could endear him to sections of the voters.
Messi and Neymar are strong contenders, but a season’s worth of production and being rewarded with two major trophies means it has to be Ronaldo who scoops the big prize in Paris.