… And the Winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013 is …

As voting for the FIFA Ballon d’Or officially closed on Friday 15th November, 2013, the poser of who emerges the best player on the planet in 2013 will continue to be an open issue at least till January 13, 2014 when FIFA and France Football Magazine will roll out the red carpet to honour deserving winners in the different award categories.

Debates leading to the close of polls have been centred around which player truly deserves to lift the Golden Ball. Players have shared peer reviews; renowned coaches have added their thoughts to the global conversation; popular analysts and pundits the world over have shaded their views. Raising the stakes even higher, FIFA’s Chief, Sepp Blatter during a talk with students at the Oxford Union Society subtly revealed his first choice for the award.

The countdown to the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala billed for the Zurich Kongresshaus has all been filled with suspense and anticipation. In what many perceive as a three-man race, the 2013 edition may perhaps go down as one of the fiercest contests in the history of the prestigious and coveted award. Portugal & Real Madrid’s ‘Commander’ Cristano Ronaldo, Argentina & Barcelona’s ‘cornerstone’ Lionel Messi, and France & Bayern Munich’s ‘stand-out performer’ Franck Ribery lead a 23-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or, which also include big names such as Andres Iniesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo, Gareth Bale, and Neymar.

Amongst the three leading contenders, Ribery is touted the frontrunner in the hotly contested race. A key member of the all-conquering Bayern Munich which swept the Deutsche Meisterschale, DFB Cup trophy, and the UEFA Champions League ‘La Orejone’ trophy last season, the Frenchman contributed 11goals and 19assists to the Bavarians’ historic treble feat. He and team-mates added the UEFA Supercup 2013 to the club’s collection after a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea. So far in the 2013/14 season, he has notched up 9goals and 6assists in all club competitions. Brimming with confidence, his every touch on the field is glossed with maturity, skills, and sound judgement. To be FRANCK, this could be the year for Ribery.

Despite the fact that Real Madrid conceded the La Liga crown to Barcelona under rancuous fashion, lost the Copa del Rey final to city rivals Atletico Madrid right insde the Santiago Bernabeu, and were hammered by a Lewandowski-inspired Borrusia Dortmund in the semi-finals of the UCL all in the 2012/13 season, yet Cristano Ronaldo’s made an impressive return of 55goals in 55appearances for Los Blancos. But what has got people talking is Ron’s goal shower since the turn of the year. 62goals and still counting for club and country make for an impressive stat. Already, he has credited to his name 16goals in the Spanish La Liga, and 8goals in the UEFA Champions League. Though Ribery is the top favorite, even though Messi is highly loved and favoured, but Cristiano will surely give the contenders a RON for their money.

For Lionel Messi the 2012/13 season remains his best ever, amassing a staggering 75goals for club and country. Unfortunately, Leo’s season has been blighted by three injuries in less than a year, the latest injury inside the crucial month of November. Whether this could sway the votes of the college remains to be seen, but in a year in which he helped the Blagranas win the Liga crown, and Supercopa de espana for a record 11times, La Pulga surely fancy his chances.

As followers of the beautiful game await the final verdict of captains & coaches of national teams, and selected journalists, the world heralds the FIFA Ballon d’Or, as a celebration of football, and a recogntion of diligence and team spirit. The puzzle lingers on …