We are at the halfway mark of the year, a time when Ballon d'Or discussion typically picks up pace. Here we look at the consensus top three soccer picks for the coveted individual award.
Lionel Messi Leads The Charge
At the close of the regular season, with Barcelona clinching the Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League, Lionel Messi emerged as the Ballon d'Or favourite at -1000 future odds at BetVictor, with less than six months left to the reveal. On July 4th, Argentina take on Chile in the Copa America final. A win by the Lionel-Messi-inspired Albiceleste will almost surely deliver the coveted individual prize to the diminutive Argentine. Heck, he could very will sit and twiddle his thumbs until Christmas and still get the trophy.
Cristiano Ronaldo Second Fave
Two-time Ballon d'Or winner and current holder Cristiano Ronaldo emerges as the second favourite, but at +800 tennis odds or thereabouts to win, he's a distant second to Lionel Messi.
As it is, Ronaldo enters the summer months significantly trophy-less despite his impressive stats (goals, assists and the sort). That means he'll need to have a tremendous finish to 2015 if he's to usurp Messi at the top of the ballot list. Where Ronaldo is at the disadvantage is that he doesn't have the opportunity to advance his cause in a summer tournament as Messi does in Copa America. Not unless Messi suffers an untimely injury or Ronaldo taps into some other-worldly form down the stretch does it seem possible for the Portuguese starlet to clinch a third straight Ballon d'Or.
Neymar Figures To Factor
The Brazilian figures to factor in the conversation, but he's a long shot soccer pick to win the Ballon d'Or this year. But he has only himself to blame for falling behind in the race.
Neymar enjoyed a standout season with Barcelona alongside Messi, particularly scoring in key moments during their Champions League winning run. What would have propelled him forward in the conversation is a title winning run in Copa America. That didn't happen.
What happened was a debacle, actually. He was given the boot in Brazil's clash with Colombia (red card) for clashing with players from the opposition, firing a ball in frustration at Pablo Armero and appearing to head butt another player that confronted him after the incident. In the end, Brazil failed to go the distance in the competition as a result, eliminated in the quarterfinals by Paraguay on penalties.
Had he won the Copa America, he would have had one title more than Messi and it would have been another story entirely. He could very well have been at the top of the conversation. Instead, Neymar's fallen behind in the race and is a long shot soccer pick at +1800 or thereabouts, depending on your sportsbook of choice. Not only that he also has the stigma of unsportsmanlike conduct having over his head. Hard to imagine his peers voting him after that.