Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to edge his rivals to the Ballon d’Or 2016 title. Lionel Messi and Neymar are few others who are also in contention. But this year’s Golden Ball belongs to Ronaldo, period. He not only clinched the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid but also bagged the UEFA Euro 2016 while captaining Portugal. The Portuguese have had a memorable year, and it will come as no surprise when he wins the Ballon d’Or 2016. But he will not be attending the event as he is currently with the Real Madrid squad who are presently in Japan for the ongoing 2016 FIFA Club World Cup.

Ballon d'Or 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Portugal, Argentina, Real Madrid, Barcelona, football

Having claimed the Champions League and Euro 2016, Cris is on course to lift the Ballon d’Or as well. (Photo: AP)

How many times have Ronaldo and Messi claimed the Ballon d’Or?

The Portuguese ace has previously won the Ballon d’Or three times (2008, 2013, 2014) while his arch-rival and the Argentine maestro has five Ballon d’Or titles to his name (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015). The pair has absolutely dominated the prestigious title, winning eight times out of the last eight. Brazil’s Kaka was the last player other than the talismanic duo to have claimed the title back in 2007.

Ballon d'Or 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Portugal, Argentina, Real Madrid, Barcelona, football

Cristiano Ronaldo and NOT Lionel Messi is favourite to win the Ballon d’Or 2016 tonight. (Photo: YouTube)

Who are the footballers who are nominated for tonight’s Ballon d’Or 2016?

In addition to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there are 28 other footballers who have also been named on the shortlist for tonight’s Ballon d’Or 2016. They are Barcelona’s Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Andres Iniesta; Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos; Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Arturo Vidal, and Thomas Muller; Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, and Koke; Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon, Paulo Dybala, and Gonzalo Higuain; Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, and Kevin de Bruyne; Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, and Riyad Mahrez; Tottenham Hotspurs’ Hugo Lloris; West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet; Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Sporting Lisbon’s Rui Patricio.

What exactly is the Ballon d’Or? Why does the football fraternity consider it to be prestigious?

The Ballon d’Or is an honour bestowed on the best footballer on the planet. The prize is voted on by national team managers, international skippers and also by journalists from around the world. It is an annual association football award that is presented by France football since 1956, the event of which is always held in the beautiful French capital – Paris. The Ballon d’Or is deemed prestigious because the trophy is considered as the top-notch individual award in the entire football fraternity. The winner not only gets all the bragging rights but also the status symbol that goes along with it.