Franck Ribery is the surprise 17/20 favourite to win this year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or, which is voted on by coaches, captains and journalists from around world football to determine the best player on the planet.
Lionel Messi was expected to lift the trophy for the fifth year in a row after another 60-goal season at Barcelona, but he is out to 7/4 in bwin’s betting amid whispers that Ribery’s telling contribution to Bayern Munich’s treble-winning 2012/13 campaign has swung the balance in the Frenchman’s favour.
The winger scored 11 goals and laid-on another 14 for his all-conquering Bayern teammates last term.
Ribery added the UEFA Best Player in Europe award to the plethora of prizes he picked up last season as his side won the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League under coach Jupp Heynckes.
The 30-year-old has been in typically good form in Bayern’s current campaign, scoring three goals in as many Champions League group games and has had a direct hand in seven of the club’s 31 Bundesliga strikes with new manager Pep Guardiola at the helm.
Although Messi scored 60 goals last term for Barca, he only has Spanish Super Cup and La Liga winners’ medals to show for that endeavour.
The Argentine wizard has run away with the award in each of the last three years since the Ballon d’Or merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year prize and became the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010.
He also picked up the prize under its old name in 2009, but he could lose out this year due to Barcelona’s relatively poor showing in the 2012/13 Champions League, where they went out in the semi-finals 7-0 on aggregate against Bayern.
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to miss out again despite a third 50-goal season in a row for Real Madrid.
It became clear that Ronaldo’s chances of winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or after two years as runner-up were bleak following FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s unfortunate mocking of the 28-year-old phenomenon at an Oxford Union debate.
The Portuguese is 8/1 to win the award, which he picked up under its old incarnation back in 2008 when still a Manchester United player.