Messi set to get 5th FIFA best player prize, end Ronaldo run
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 09, 2016 11:27 AM
FILE - This is a Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014 file photo of FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi holding the ball after scoring a hat-trick in the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. The 2015 Ballon díOr award is on Monday Jan. 11, 2016 in Zurich and Messi is strongly favored to be named FIFA best player for a fifth time. Ronaldo has won it three times including the past two years. Messiís Barcelona teammate Neymar is the other candidate. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)
AP Sports Writer
GENEVA (AP) — Lionel Messi is favored to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or on Monday, ending Cristiano Ronaldo's two-year hold on soccer's top individual prize.
Messi already has a 4-3 lead in their career duel for the annual FIFA prize but has recently been eclipsed by his great rival.
That changed in 2015 when Messi inspired Barcelona to regain the Champions League title among five major trophies to none for Real Madrid, despite Ronaldo's relentless goal-scoring pace.
Barcelona's dominance also helped Brazil star Neymar earn a place on the three-man shortlist for the first time.
The Catalan club can sweep the men's honors with Luis Enrique heading the coaches' shortlist after becoming European champion and winning the Spanish league and cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup.
Messi can also win the Puskas Award — a fans' online vote for best goal — for his solo slalom through the Athletic Bilbao defense to score in the Spanish cup final.
The World Cup-winning United States team is set to dominate the women's honors.
Carli Lloyd's 13-minute hat trick in the final — including a shot from the halfway line in a 5-2 rout of Japan — makes her a top contender for the player's prize. Lloyd is a finalist for the first time at 33 after a decade of national team duty, more than 200 appearances and two Olympic titles.
She is against Aya Miyama of Japan and Germany's Celia Sasic, whose six World Cup goals in Canada matched Lloyd though it earned her the Golden Boot because they were scored in less playing time.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis is strongly favored to win the women's team coach award ahead of Mark Sampson, who led England to third place, and Norio Sasaki, who took the 2011 award after Japan won the previous World Cup.
Americans swept the 2012 awards when forward Abby Wambach and coach Pia Sundhage were rewarded for the team's Olympic title.
Barcelona swept the 2011 awards when Messi and then-coach Pep Guardiola won.
Guardiola is also nominated this year after winning the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. Guardiola will skip Monday's event to stay with Bayern's midwinter training camp in Qatar.
Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli is also on the shortlist for guiding the host to a first Copa America title, beating his native Argentina captained by Messi in the final.
Voting for the main awards was by national team captains and coaches, and selected journalists from FIFA's 209 member countries.
The goal award is chosen by fans until Monday. The shortlist is: Messi; Roma right-back Alessandro Florenzi's goal from the right flank against Barcelona in the Champions League; and a bicycle kick by Wendell Lira for Goianesia against Atletico-GO in a Brazilian league game.
FIFA will also present a Fair Play Award but has canceled the Presidential Award traditionally made by Sepp Blatter, who is now banned for eight years for unethical conduct.
Acting FIFA president Issa Hayatou will make the formal opening speech.