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Ronaldo, Messi or Neuer - Who will be the world's best footballer?

With the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner to be decided today, we look at the contenders for the trophy and their achievements in 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid, Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's 2014 in numbers

Ronaldo has scored 61 goals for club and country in 2014.

Why he could win it:
Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to the Champions League, the Copa Del Rey (Spanish Cup), UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup titles last year.

Why he could miss out:
He had a lacklustre 2014 World Cup by his own standards and his indifferent form led to Portugal crashing out in the group stages itself.

For and against Ronaldo
Sergio Ramos Real Madrid defender
Cristiano deserves the Ballon d'Or. He's a born winner and does not like losing. He wants to win everything

Xavi
Barcelona midfielder
The thing is, Cristiano didn't do much in the World Cup and I think that in the year of the World Cup that defines much of the season

2
Ballon d'Ors Ronaldo has won

Lionel Messi Barcelona, Argentina
Lionel Messi
Messi's 2014 in numbers

Messi has racked up 58 goals and 21 assists in 66 appearances for club and country last year.

Why he could win it:
Messi broke the La Liga goal-scoring record in 2014 and became the Uefa Champions League's all-time leading goalscorer. He also inspired Argentina to the World Cup final by scoring four goals and lifted the Golden Ball trophy in Brazil.

Why he could miss out:
2014 has been a bad year for Lionel Messi — one where he was mired in multiple controversies off the field and did not live up to his own standards on the field.

For and against Messi
Andres Iniesta Barcelona footballer
For me, the only candidate I see is Leo (Messi). The Ballon d'Or is not decided by titles but by a vote of people who believe a player deserves it because they are the best. For me, the number one is Leo. Today and always

Diego Maradona Argentina legend
I feel that Messi (and Ronaldo) has taken things a bit too relaxed in 2014

4
Ballon d'Ors Messi has won  

Manuel Neuer Bayern, Germany
Manuel Neuer
Neuer's 2014 in numbers

Neuer conceded just 40 goals in 62 games in 2014.

Why he could win it:
Neuer won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, as well as a German league and cup double with Bayern Munich. He also reinvented the goalkeeper's job profile by playing in an unusual keeper-sweeper role for Germany and Bayern Munich.

Why he could miss out:
The title of the world's best footballer has historically favoured forwards or attack-minded footballers. A goalkeeper has never won the award since Lev Yashin won it in 1963, although Neuer's compatriot Oliver Kahn came within touching distance in 2002.

For and against Neuer
Andres Iniesta Barcelona footballer
For me, the only candidate I see is Leo (Messi). The Ballon d'Or is not decided by titles but by a vote of people who believe a player deserves it because they are the best. For me, the number one is Leo. Today and always

Diego Maradona Argentina legend
I feel that Messi (and Ronaldo) has taken things a bit too relaxed in 2014

0
Ballon d'Ors Neuer has won  

FIFA Ballon d'Or award decoded
> The FIFA Ballon d'Or award was created in 2010 when the FIFA World Player of the Year award and France Football's Ballon d'Or award were merged. The award is based on votes cast by coaches and captains of national football teams, as well as journalists from around the world.

 

> FIFA World Player of the Year award was constituted in 1991 as an award for the best men's player in the world while the Ballon d'Or award (often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year award) has been around since 1956, when France Football's chief magazine writer Gabriel Hanot asked his colleagues to vote for the player of the year in Europe.

> Until 1995, only European players playing for European clubs could win the Ballon d'Or.

> In 2007, any player in the world became eligible for the award before it was merged with the FIFA award two years later.

Other awards up for grabs today...

> FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. The contenders are: Nadine Kessler (Germany), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA)

 

> FIFA Men's World Coach. The contenders are: Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Joachim Loew (German national team) and Diego Simeone (Atletico de Madrid)

> FIFA Women's World Coach. The contenders are: Ralf Kellermann (VfL Wolfsburg), Maren Meinert (Germany U-19 and U-20 national teams) and Norio Sasaki (Japan national team)

> Puskas Award (for the best goal from around the world between October 3, 2013 and September 26, 2014). The contenders are:
Stephanie Roche (October 20, 2013, Peamount United vs Wexford Youths in the BEWNL);

James Rodriguez (June 28, 2014, Colombia vs Uruguay, at the 2014 FIFA World Cup);

Robin van Persie (June 13, 2014, Spain vs Netherlands, a the 2014 FIFA World Cup).

> The FIFA Presidential Award, which will be given to a person or an institution that has made a superlative contribution to the sport. The Presidential Award may be conferred in honour of one special event or a lifetime of service, or for an exemplary attitude

> The FIFA Fair Play Award, which will be presented to an entity, be it an individual player, fans of clubs and national teams, or national associations for their fair play.

> The FIFA FIFPro World XI will also be announced today. The official World XI team, as voted for by 20,000 professional footballers, will be unveiled today in Zurich.

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