Ballon dOr 2015 Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi Neymar soccer imagesThe usual suspects – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – have yet again made it in the three-man shortlist for the 2015 Ballon d’Or. The duo will be joined by the Brazilian ace Neymar for the ceremony in Zurich on January 11, 2016.

FIFA have whittled down their 23-men list for the 2015 Ballon d’Or award. Lionel Messi is the favorite to win the accolade as his scintillating performances helped Barcelona to win yet another historic treble last season. The diminutive Argentine was outstanding and overshadowed the brilliant displays of teammates Luis Suarez and Neymar. The Barcelona stalwart bagged 58 goals and 27 assists in 57 appearances in all competitions. Messi already holds the record for the most wins in the competition, and he’d be ready to win his fifth Ballon d’Or next year.

Cristiano Ronaldo has won three Ballon d’Or trophies and is chasing Messi’s record of four wins. The Portuguese skipper scored 61 goals and provided 21 assists in his 54 appearances for Real Madrid in all competitions last season. Based on his individual performance last season, the 30-year-old forward presents a good case for himself and he would be looking forward to winning his fourth Ballon d’Or. Although, it seems highly unlikely that he’d win the trophy as Los Blancos failed to win any silverware at the end of the 2014/15 campaign.

Neymar was the joint-third top scorer in La Liga last term. He netted 22 goals in the Spanish league and gave some match winning performances for Luis Enrique’s side which won the treble. The 23-year-old was the top scorer in the Champions League last season with ten goals. Neymar ends the eight-year period without any Brazilian player in the top three. The last Brazilian to be shortlisted for the award was Kaká in 2007, who eventually won it ahead of Messi and Ronaldo.

Luis Suarez will not be on the podium in Zurich but the Uruguayan striker was nothing short of sensational last year, and he is continuing his form this season. For the sixth year in a row, the three-man Ballon d’Or shortlist doesn’t include a player from the Premier League. Among the top five European leagues, five players from the English league, six from the Bundesliga and 11 from the Spanish league were included into the 23-man list.

The women’s nominees for their respective prize are the USA’s Carli Lloyd, Japan’s Aya Miyama and Germany’s Celia Sasic.

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