Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar headline an impressive 30-man shortlist unveiled on Monday for the 2017 Ballon d'Or world footballer of the year award. Portugal superstar Ronaldo is attempting to match Lionel Messi's record by winning the prize for the fifth time after his starring role in Real Madrid's first La Liga and Champions League double in 59 years. Ronaldo has claimed the prestigious honor in three of the past four years, with Argentina standout Messi last collecting the trophy in 2015 following Barcelona's treble-winning campaign.
The pair have combined to win the award - organized by France Football magazine - every year since former Brazil and AC Milan star Kaka won it in 2007. Ronaldo remains the strong favorite despite still searching for his first league goal in the 2017/18 season after serving a five-match domestic ban following his dismissal in the Spanish Super Cup.
Messi has profited from his rival's absence to spearhead Barcelona's stunning start to the campaign, scoring 11 goals in the first seven matches while adding two more in Europe. But both players remain in danger of missing the 2018 World Cup.
European champions Portugal could be forced to negotiate next month's play-offs unless they defeat Group B leaders Switzerland in their final qualifier on Tuesday.
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