Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann vie for FIFA award

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ESPN – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will resume their annual battle for glory after both were named on the three-man shortlist, alongside Antoine Griezmann, for FIFA’s Best Men’s Player award.

The pair have finished first and second in each of the past five years with Messi edging out his great rival three wins to two, including his triumph last year.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi again shone as Barca won the 2015-16 La Liga title, but the Argentina international could be upstaged this year by Ronaldo, who is favoured to claim the prize for a fourth time.

Though the Madrid man has struggled by his own stratospheric standards in the early stages of the current campaign, it is unlikely to overshadow the fact he contributed significantly as he picked up both the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and Euro 2016 with Portugal in a stunning year.screenshot-45

Despite Griezmann finishing as Euro 2016 top scorer, he is considered the third favourite for the trophy.

After six years during which the Ballon d’Or was awarded in conjunction with FIFA, replacing the governing body’s World Player of the Year prize, the list will revert to its original roots this year.

No longer will a combined group of national team coaches, captains and international media take part in the decision, with only journalists now getting a vote.

The shortlist for the women’s Ballon d’Or is Carli Lloyd (U.S.), Marta (Brazil) and Melanie Behringer (Germany).

Behringer helped guide Germany to their first Women’s Olympic Football Tournament gold medal, while the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd scored 17 goals in 2016 for the USWNT.

Marta, five-time winner of the prize, is in the final three for the 12th time in 13 years but could only help Brazil to fourth place at the Olympics after defeat in the bronze medal match to Canada.

The FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala takes place in Zurich on Jan. 9.

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