Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) holds the ball besides Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo during their Spanish King's Cup quarter-final second leg "El Clasico" soccer match at Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona, January 25, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery are the 2013 Ballon d'Or finalists.
The result is no surprise. All three were seen as favorites to win the award since the beginning of the summer.
Ribery defeated Ronaldo and Messi for the UEFA Player of the Year award this summer and was seen as the favorite early on. However, Cristiano Ronaldo's early 2013-14 form, which featured 17 goals in 14 Spanish League games, has put him at the forefront of the race. The voting extension a few weeks ago is also seen as a potential move to get Ronaldo his first such award since 2008 when he was still a member of Manchester United. Ronaldo's other major feat in 2013 was the four goals he delivered for Portugal in the climactic World Cup playoff against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Sweden.
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Messi is looking to win his fifth straight and some sources claim that he has already booked the top spot for the individual award. However, Messi's 2013 has been plagued by injuries and his overall goal output has dropped dramatically from the 92 he put up in 2012.
Ribery was the leader of Bayern Munich's three trophies during the 2012-13 season and has been dynamic for his club in early 2013-14. Ribery also led France past the Ukraine in the World Cup playoffs.
The voting for the award is essentially a popularity contest with the coaches and captains of international sides getting a chance to pick their top three; members of the press also get to weigh in on the award.
The award will be presented on Jan. 14, 2014.