The glitziest night on the football calendar will take place in Zurich on Monday, with Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Neymar vying for the main Ballon d'Or award alongside the current holder, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
It’s an evening that honours individual feats of brilliance throughout the previous calendar year, with all of the aforementioned trio having enjoyed a remarkable 2015. Aside from the coveted men’s gong, there’s be an award for the best women’s player, the Coach of the Year and the Puskas Award for the finest goal of 2015.
Here’s a full look at the contenders in each section, the viewing details for the ceremony and a closer examination of the likely winners for the two main awards.
|Ballon d'Or 2015: Nominees|
|Men's Player of the Year||Lionel Messi||Neymar||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Women's Player of the Year||Carli Lloyd||Celic Sasic||Aya Miyama|
|Men's Coach of the Year||Luis Enrique||Pep Guardiola||Jorge Sampaoli|
|Women's Coach of the Year||Jill Ellis||Mark Sampson||Norio Sasaki|
|Puskas Award||Alessandro Florenzi vs. Barcelona||Lionel Messi vs. Athletic Club||Wendell Lira vs. Atletico Goianiense|
Date: Monday, Jan. 11
Time: 5:30 p.m. (GMT), 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Ceremony will be broadcast on Eurosport (UK) and can be streamed via the FIFA website.
The overwhelming favourite to triumph in the main category is Messi, as he helped Barcelona win a staggering five trophies during the previous calendar year.
This current season has been a decent one for the Blaugrana star, but it has been blemished by an injury layoff. Indeed, it’s his exceptional form toward the back end of 2014-15 that will see him emerge victorious ahead of Neymar and Ronaldo, as he helped Barcelona to glory in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
As WhoScored.com noted recently, despite his two-month layoff, Messi is alongside Ronaldo as the most decisive player in the final third in 2015:
Most goals + assists in Europe’s top 5 leagues in 2015: Ronaldo / Messi (49) Suárez (42) Ibrahimovic (38) Aubameyang / Neymar (36)2015-12-31 14:15:08
Messi has made these contributions at vital moments too. His winning goal against Atletico Madrid in a 1-0 triumph at the Vicente Calderon secured the title for Barcelona, while his stunning solo effort against Athletic Club in the final of the Copa del Rey helped the Blaugrana on their way to more silverware.
Here’s a reminder of that sensational effort, which has been nominated for the Puskas Award:
Additionally, Messi embarrassed Jerome Boateng during Barca’s semi-final triumph over Bayern Munich in the Champions League before running Juventus ragged in the final, which his team won 3-1 in Berlin.
Neymar and Ronaldo have both enjoyed tremendous seasons, but in terms of his end product, general play and influence in big matches, Messi deserves to be this year’s winner. That’ll be the fifth time the Argentina skipper has been named as FIFA’s finest player, and if his recent form is any indicator, the 28-year-old could win this gong a few more times yet.
For Carli Lloyd, this ceremony is likely to be the crowning moment on a memorable year, as she inspired the United States women's national team to glory at the 2015 World Cup.
After falling short in the final in 2011, there were big question marks over whether or not the USWNT possessed the mental strength to make the final step on the biggest stage right up until the final. But inspired by their wonderful midfielder, the United States blew away reigning champions Japan in spectacular circumstances.
Indeed, the United States roared to a four-goal lead inside the opening 16 minutes, with Lloyd notching a memorable hat-trick. One of her goals was particularly special, as we can see here courtesy of Howler magazine:
Howler Magazine @whatahowler
Presumably Carli Lloyd’s goal didn’t make the #PuskasAward cut b/c it would have embarrassed the other nominees? https://t.co/imxY4IBpnB2015-11-30 15:48:06
Throughout that tournament Lloyd was an immense presence in the United States’ team, surging forward with the ball, playing precision passes and, as is evident by her magnificent hat-trick in the biggest game of her career, stepping up when it really mattered.
In Aya Miyama and Celia Sasic, who also enjoyed tremendous World Cup campaigns, Lloyd does have some stern competition for this particular gong. But the American was the standout player in women’s football in 2015, and to produce what she did in the final takes remarkable talent and temperament.
Expect Lloyd to get the nod in this category, and with the Olympics to come later in the year, for her to have a major impact on the destination of another major title in the women’s game in 2016.