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Phil Kitromildes takes a look at the candidates for the top prize in football and is backing the Real Madrid star to end his Barcelona counterpart's incredible run of wins

Having scored three goals and produced two scintillating performances at Euro 2012, Cristiano Ronaldo may have edged ahead of his arch rival Lionel Messi in the running for this year's Ballon d'Or.

Paddy Power price the Portuguese international at 6/4 (2.50) to win the award and his escapades at the European Championship plus his 59 goals scored in all competitions for Real Madrid last season mean that although he is not leading the betting, he should be in pole position.

Madrid's success in claiming the Spanish title will also aid his cause, adding credence to the theory that Ronaldo has been the most consistent performer at the highest level this year. Messi, however, scored more goals and his brilliance shows no signs of abating.

The Argentine has won the Ballon d'Or for the last three years and while his performances at international have not gained the recognition that Ronaldo's did at Euro 2012, it would be unfair to suggest that he has failed to produce for the national side.

Messi can be backed at 5/4 (2.25) to win for a fourth successive year, with himself and Ronaldo well clear of the rest in the betting.

The closest to the pair is Andrea Pirlo, with the Italian's midfield masterclass against England during Euro 2012 helping elevate him to third favourite.

Pirlo, whose grace and poise in midfield ensured that Juventus reclaimed the Scudetto while remaining unbeaten, as well as being at the heart of the Italian team that made the Euro 2012 final, is priced at 5/1 (6.00). That's a price that has had a significant cut following the Azzurri's recent good form.
 
Meanwhile, the rest of the field, despite featuring some of the cream of European football, appear to be relative outsiders.

The Spain and Barcelona pairing of Andres Iniesta and Xavi are available at 10/1 (11.00) and 50/1 (51.00) respectively.

Iniesta has performed admirably this summer, winning the UEFA Player of the Tournament award for Euro 2012, while Xavi enjoyed his best ever scoring season for Barca, but neither look to have reached the heights required to win this prestigious award.

Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez has enjoyed an excellent season for club and country, with three goals at Euro 2012, and he looks to hold more value than Xavi at the price of 50/1 (51.00) while two of his team-mates, Philip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, are priced at 80/1 (81.00).

Frank Lampard is the only Englishman in Paddy Power's book which is perhaps a surprise given his absence from Euro 2012 through injury. He did however play a key role in leading Chelsea do a first ever Champions League title although his odds of 100/1 (101.00) reflect his chances of winning the award.


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Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon D'or at 6/4 (2.50) with Paddy Power

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.

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