Paris - After years living in the shadow of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo
is expected to lift the 2013 Ballon d'Or at Monday's award ceremony in
Zurich, pipping the Argentine and Franck Ribery in the process.
team coaches and captains as well as journalists from around the world
have voted for the winner, with an initial 23-man shortlist being
reduced to three last month.
Messi is a contender to win the
trophy for a fifth successive year, but few are talking about the
Barcelona star this time, with Bayern Munich's Ribery hoping his
remarkable season at club level gives him the edge against the
goalscoring exploits of Real Madrid and Portugal's Ronaldo.
year's prize has been marred by a voting controversy, after the original
November 15 deadline was extended by FIFA and co-organisers France
Football magazine "on account of an insufficient number of votes having
Prior to that, Ribery had been the favourite, but
the extension came immediately after Ronaldo's hat-trick helped Portugal
beat Sweden in a play-off to qualify for the World Cup.
That played into the hands of the 28-year-old, who is hoping to win the award for the second time following his success in 2008.
himself claims he is not obsessed with the award, although he admits
that he has saved a space for it in his recently-opened museum on his
native island of Madeira.
"I prefer to not say anything because
things don't depend solely on me. I am not obsessed with the Ballon
d'Or. We will see what happens," he told Spanish radio in November.
won nothing with Real Madrid or with Portugal in 2013, but the Ballon
d'Or is an individual award and there can be little doubting the
individual quality of a player who scored 66 goals in 56 games for club
and country in the calendar year.
In contrast to Ronaldo, Messi
did add to his medal collection in 2013, helping Barcelona reclaim the
Spanish league title from Madrid.
He was also the top scorer in
La Liga with a remarkable 46 goals last season, but it was a frustrating
year for the Argentine in many ways, marred by hamstring injuries.
the past, the prize has tended to go to a player who has been part of
the year's most successful team, and that is why Ribery was initially
fancied to become the first French winner since Zinedine Zidane.
30-year-old winger starred as Bayern won five trophies in the calendar
year - Champions League, Bundesliga, German Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club
UEFA named him as the Best Player in Europe in 2013
and Bayern's sporting director Matthias Sammer believes he deserves to
take the prize.
"I think that only he can win. And if he does so, he will be at the summit of Mount Olympus," declared Sammer recently.
In the coach of the year category, Borussia Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp is up against two greats who retired in 2013.
Ferguson bowed out after almost 27 years in charge of Manchester United
by winning the Premier League, while Jupp Heynckes masterminded
Bayern's unprecedented treble last season.
Meanwhile, USA star
Abby Wambach will look to take the women's award for the second year
running, although she faces stiff competition from German goalkeeper
Nadine Angerer and Brazilian Marta, who won the FIFA award five times in
a row between 2006 and 2010.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke
confirmed in an interview with French radio on Sunday that the gala
ceremony would feature tributes to former South African leader Nelson
Mandela and to Benfica and Portugal great Eusebio, both of whom died
Eusebio was the winner of the Ballon d'Or in 1965.
Ballon d'Or candidates:
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid ESP/POR), Lionel Messi (Barcelona ESP/ARG), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich GER/FRA)
Coach of the year candidates:
Alex Ferguson (SCO), Jupp Heynckes (GER), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund/GER)
Women's Ballon d'Or candidates:
Nadine Angerer (Brisbane Roar AUS/GER), Marta (Tyreso SWE/BRA), Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash USA)