The 2019 Ballon d’Or awards take place in Paris today with Barcelona and Argentina superstar, Lionel Messi and USA women’s World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe tipped for honours.
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Rapinoe walking out of the Chatelet Theatre with the women’s prize after spearheading the USA to a fourth World Cup crown in the summer.
The forward won the Golden Ball for best player as well as the Golden Boot for her six tournament goals, including a penalty in the 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the final held in Lyon.
There is more competition for the men’s award, with last year’s winner Luka Modric not among the 30 nominees, organised by France Football magazine and voted for by 180 journalists from around the world.
The Real Madrid midfielder was rewarded for a fine year in which he helped his club win the Champions League as well as take his national team Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, ultimately losing to France.
That ended a decade in which Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon d’Or five times each, but the Barcelona man is favourite to beat his arch-nemesis to a sixth crown.
While Juventus and Portugal star Ronaldo is certainly in with a shout, others are in the reckoning too.
Seven of the Liverpool side that lifted the Champions League in June are nominated, with Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk the Reds’ leading candidate for the award.