Pitchside Europe

FIFA Ballon d’Or: The contenders in numbers

Tonight, the FIFA Ballon d'Or - football's most prestigious individual prize - will be awarded in a glitzy ceremony in Zurich.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, team-mate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo are the three men in contention to take home the golden ball.

After scoring 91 goals in 2012, Messi is the huge odds-on favourite to be named the world's best player for a record fourth time. The Argentina forward won both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or in 2009, before then claiming the award in 2010 and 2011 when the two prizes were amalgamated.

Ronaldo won both previous awards in 2008 when he helped Manchester United record a Premier League and Champions League double, while Iniesta, the rank outsider, won UEFA's Best Player in Europe award in August after helping Spain to Euro 2012 glory.

Our live coverage begins at 16:45, with the decision to be announced just before 19:00.

Messi looks to be the heavy favourite, but it is not a foregone conclusion. And to get the full  statistical analysis of each of the three contenders, we asked Opta to break down their respective efforts across the year in incredible detail.


The headline statistics demonstrate Messi leads the way in terms of goals for club and international sides with his record tally of 91. Furthermore, he is only one assist short of Iniesta, who leads the way in that category with 23.


For a more complete picture of each man's feats, we have analysed their contribution in each major competition, and it must be said again, Messi measures up very well indeed.

Having seen all the statistics, who do you think should win the FIFA Ballon d'Or award on Monday? Have your say below...