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Ronaldo, Messi battle for Ballon d’Or for record 7th time

ballonTVC E, SPORTS – For the seventh time in eight years, the duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected to fill the top two places on the FIFA Ballon d’Or podium in Zurich on Monday January the 11th for the coveted prize, with Neymar the other contender on the shortlist.

Even before the award was merged with France Football’s Ballon d’Or in 2010, the men’s World Player of the Year had effectively become an annual private ‘Clasico’ between two of the great players of any generation.

Barcelona maestro Messi, who will now be on the podium for a record ninth successive year, won the honour four times consecutively between 2009 and 2012, while Real Madrid ‘s Ronaldo has won three times, once when he was at Manchester United in 2008 and the most recent two editions at Real Madrid.

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The only time in the last seven years when they did not finish one-two was in 2010 when the Barcelona trio of Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi swept the podium.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique also heads the shortlist for the men’s coach of year award, along with Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola and Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.

Guardiola’s inclusion was possibly a surprise as Bayern Munich’s only trophy last season was the Bundesliga.

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Sampaoli led Chile to their first-ever Copa America title, which they won at home after beating Argentina on penalties in the final.

The FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award will be contested between Carli Lloyd of the World Cup winning Team USA, Japan’s Aya Miyama and Celia Sasic of Germany.

The World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award contenders are Jill Ellis of Team USA, England’s Mark Sampson and Norio Sasaki of Japan.

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