Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo renew their annual rivalry for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, with Neymar the third nominee, looking to usurp the two modern-day superstars.
Messi and Ronaldo have held the prestigious Ballon d'Or for FIFA's World Footballer of the Year title for the last seven years, with the Barcelona wonder winning four and the Real Madrid forward taking three, including two in the last two years.
While Ronaldo is the reigning Ballon d'Or champion, there only looks like being one winner for 2015 – Messi. The 28-year-old is coming off a season in which he was the star of a Barcelona team which won pretty much everything there was to win. Part of the MSN triumvirate which also includes Neymar and Luis Suarez, Messi shrugged off all doubts of his powers waning, to enjoy the kind of year that had everyone shaking their heads in disbelief again.
While Ronaldo is, again, the favourite to finish in the top two, it wouldn't be that big a surprise if Neymar sneaks in ahead of the Portuguese. The Brazilian has improved considerably in recent times, and showed, in the latter part of 2015, his ability to take over the Messi-mantle at Barca in the injury-enforced absence of the Argentine.
You feel Neymar will eventually win the Ballon d'Or with it being a matter of when rather than if. However, with Messi in the form that he was in in 2015, that wait might have to go on for another year at least.
Ronaldo had another terrific season with Real Madrid, scoring over 50 goals in the calendar year to, yet again, show the ridiculous standards that he sets. However, the fact that Real Madrid failed to win a single trophy in 2015, will act against the 31-year-old when it comes to the voting.
Apart from the FIFA Ballon d'Or, several other awards will also be handed out, including the women's player of the year, with Carli Lloyd, Aya Miyama and Celia Sasic vying for the big prize.
The men's Coach of the Year shortlist has Pep Guardiola of Bayern Munich, Luis Enrique of Barcelona and Chile national coach Jorge Sampaoli. Going by the trophies won, Enrique should be the frontrunner, but Sampaoli will also be in with a chance, after his terrific Chile side lifted the Copa America last year.
Jill Ellis of the USA, Mark Sampson of England and Norio Sasaki of Japan are the final three shortlisted for the Women's Coach of the Year. There is also an award for the best goal of the year – the Ferenc Puskas Award – and Alessandro Florenzi, Wendel Lira and Messi are the three candidates. Messi should win that one as well for his ridiculous run and finish against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final.
Where to Watch Live
Get the full list of winners during the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony HERE
The FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony will begin in Zurich at 6.30 pm CET (11 pm IST, 5.30 pm GMT, 12.30 pm ET). Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD4 will provide live coverage of the Messi-Ronaldo-Neymar battle in India.
Sky Sports 1 will broadcast the ceremony in the UK and Ireland, while Eurosport will do the same for viewers in the rest of Europe. Viewers in the US can watch the Ballon d'Or live on ESPN3, while the channel to flip your remote to in Canada is Sportsnet.
Bein Sports will show the event live in Australia, Middle East and North Africa.