Ballon d'Or 2017 - Power Rankings
The announcement of the 62nd Ballon d'Or is less than 36 hours away and the tension is mounting as we inch closer to what could be a pivotal moment in a rivalry which has gone on to define a generation.
If Cristiano Ronaldo wins the golden beauty, it will be the 5th time he would have done it - helping him draw level with arch-rival Lionel Messi. However, if it is the Argentine who comes out on top then he will widen the gap between himself and the Portuguese.
With football being a team sport, giving so much importance to an individual award is harmful to the sport in general. However, the Ballon d'Or's prominence, popularity and importance grew in the eyes of the fans ever since it has been used as a benchmark to determine which out of Ronaldo or Messi is the better footballer.
Anyways, the existence of the Ballon d'Or and the significance of the award is a debate for another day and one we shall touch upon in the near future.
However, now is not the time to discuss all that, instead, let's take a look at the 5 leading contenders to win Ballon d'Or 2017:
#5 Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, Italy)
Everything was set for Gianluigi Buffon to put an end to the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi duopoly in the Ballon d'Or, by becoming the first goalkeeper since the legendary Lev Yashin, and only the second shot-stopper ever, to be awarded the Ballon d'Or.
All the Italian shot-stopper had to do was ensure that Juventus beat Real Madrid in the final of the UEFA Champions League, thereby helping Buffon win his first UCL title too.
However, in the 90 minutes of football played between the two European giants on 3rd June at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, all hopes of the legendary Italian custodian were dashed, as Cristiano Ronaldo and company completed a well-deserved 4-1 rout of the Old Lady.
Things have not gone according to plan since for the 39-year-old, who also announced his retirement from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Buffon's career may not be complete without the UEFA Champions League and the Ballon d'Or. But it is only the former which he would truly regret having missed out on. For it was the Ballon d'Or's loss that it was never awarded to one of the greatest of all times - as has been the case with a few others.