The Ballon d'Or is set to return in 2021 after a year's absence and the race for football's most prestigious individual prize is heating up.
The Ballon d'Or was canceled in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we've had an uninterrupted season so far and fully expect the most coveted individual prize in football to make a return.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have exercised a dominating duopoly over the trophy over the past decade and a half. Lionel Messi has gained the lead with six Ballon d'Ors and it will be interesting to see whether or not an ageing Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to match him.
Euros and Copa America to have a huge say in Ballon d'Or 2021
We could have plenty of other worthy contenders in this race apart from just these two. With the Euros and Copa America set to take place in the summer, international competitions will have a huge say in who goes on to win the award.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or this term.
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal)
Juventus have endured a difficult season this time around under new manager Andrea Pirlo. They had a period in the middle of the season where it looked like the Bianconeri might just return to the top of the table, but a slump in form has since seen them slip into a top 4 dogfight.
Juventus will take on Atalanta in the final of the Coppa Italia shortly and that is their only shot at silverware this season. Cristiano Ronaldo has continued to shine though. He has been their standout performer this season and is on course to end the season as the top scorer in Serie A.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 34 goals and provided five assists for Juventus in 40 appearances across all competitions. He has also scored three goals in eight appearances for the Portuguese national side across various competitions.
Portugal are among the favourites heading into the Euros and if Cristiano Ronaldo can lead the side to a European championship, he'll have staked his claim on the Ballon d'Or this year.
#4 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)
Robert Lewandowski, the man justified in feeling robbed of the Ballon d'Or in its absence last year, has made a strong case for himself once again this year. However, Bayern Munich have not been as dominant this season as compared to their treble-winning last season
Bayern Munich have crashed out of the Champions League but are on course to win yet another Bundesliga title. Despite Lewandowski's incredible numbers, there's a feeling that winning one domestic title might not be enough to propel him to the Ballon d'Or.
Lewandowski has scored 41 goals and provided six assists for Bayern Munich in 35 appearances across all competitions. He has scored a further seven for Poland in eight appearances across the UEFA Nations League and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.