Will Cristiano Ronaldo Unseat Lionel Messi As World's Best Soccer Player?

Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo is heavily favored to end rival Lionel Messi’s four-year reign as the world’s best soccer player at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala on Monday.

Ronaldo had 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal and seems likely to earn his second FIFA award after finishing second three times in Messi's dominating era.

Franck Ribery is the third candidate, but the Bayern Munich and France winger needs to score a major upset to add the FIFA accolade to UEFA's Best Player in Europe award that he won in August.

Ronaldo got a boost from FIFA's decision after the World Cup playoffs in November to extend the voting deadline by two weeks.

That brought his inspiring performance and hat trick for Portugal in Stockholm, completing a 4-2 aggregate win to eliminate Zlatan Ibrahimvic and Sweden, into the calculations.

"I did my job as I have been doing all season," Ronaldo said following the match. "Every year I show what I'm about. I've scored 40 or 50 goals a season and that's not enough for everyone."

Messi, who had 45 goals for Barcelona and Argentina, was unable to further his case after already being ruled out of action for by a third injury in 2013.

FIFA also allowed the voting college — national team captains and coaches, plus one journalist, from each of world football's 209 member countries — to change preferences and submit new ballot papers. Voters were invited to select their top three choices from a 23-man shortlist provided by FIFA and France Football magazine.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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