By Rahul Bali
Fabio Cannavaro believes that Cristiano Ronaldo will win this year’s Ballon d’Or - despite claiming that Franck Ribery is more deserving of the award.
The Real Madrid star - who was crowned the world's best player for the first time back in 2008 - has been in sensational goalscoring form for the past 12 months and currently has 29 goals in 22 club appearances this season.
Ronaldo faces competition from four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, with the Frenchman scoring 12 goals in 22 games this term, as well as helping the Bavarians to the treble last season.
“Ribery would merit it, but Ronaldo will win it,” Cannavaro told Goal.
The former Italy international also expressed his displeasure over Fifa choosing to select its top eight seeds based on October's world rankings.
Hosts Brazil were joined by Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, Uruguay and Switzerland as top seeds, but Italy missed out - despite reaching the final of Euro 2012 and winning the World Cup in 2006.
Since then, the Azzurri have leapfrogged Switzerland into seventh position, which would have earned them a spot in pot one of the draw.
“I believe it was not a decision that respects the history and the victories of the Italian national team in the World Cup. We must never forget that we have won four World Cups, one less than Brazil, and participated in three finals!”
Italy have been drawn alongside England, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D at the tournament this summer and Cannavaro has backed his nation to qualify for the knockout stages.
“The problem (of qualification) is not of Italy, but of their opponents. I believe Italy and England will qualify from the group.”
Should Prandelli’s side reach the knockout stages, they are likely to face an easier route to the quarter-finals, with Group C countries Cote d’Ivoire, Colombia, Japan and Greece all potential opponents - but the former Juventus defender is warning against complacency.
“I do not think we can think that way. Any team that passes the group stage is strong and dangerous. Italy, which is a top side, has always preferred to face a top side because the concentration is higher when you face such teams.”
Cannavaro concluded by identifying France and Brazil as two nations who have been fortunate in their group draws, while tipping Italy, the Selecao, Germany or Spain to lift the World Cup next summer.
Cannavaro is represented by Claudio Minghetti