Ballon d’Or 2023: The Top Contenders for This Year’s Prestigious Awards

Lionel Messi Leads the Race for Ballon d’Or, Breaking Spain’s Reign

As the Ballon d’Or ceremony approaches, the landscape of Spanish football’s dominance in the men’s category seems set to change. For the last 23 years, the winner of the prestigious award has had ties to Spanish football, with Kaka in 2007 being the last to win it without playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona, dating back to Andriy Shevchenko in 2004.

However, this year, Lionel Messi stands as the hot favorite for the Ballon d’Or, following his instrumental role in Argentina’s first World Cup victory in 36 years. Manchester City’s Erling Haaland is believed to be his closest competitor, having clinched the Premier League and the Champions League.

La Liga is well-represented in the 30-man shortlist, with Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan making the cut. Real Madrid features four candidates in Luka Modric, Jude Bellingham, Vinicius Junior, and Karim Benzema, who moved to Al Ittihad in July.

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann also makes a strong case as one of the best La Liga players over the last year, and he has secured a place on the longlist. Former Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou’s inclusion is attributed to his role in their Europa League victory and Morocco’s World Cup semi-final run.

The women’s Ballon d’Or list includes several Spanish World Cup champions, with Barcelona’s Aitana Bonmati emerging as a top contender. Spain’s World Cup winners Olga Carmona, Alba Redondo, and Salma Paralluelo are on the list, along with Barcelona’s Champions League victors Fridolina Rolfo, Asisat Oshoala, Patri Guijarro, and Mapi Leon.

In the race for the Kopa award, presented to the best young player, Jude Bellingham’s impressive start to the season appears likely to secure his victory. He is expected to outshine competitors such as Gavi, Pedri, Alejandro Balde, Eduardo Camavinga, and former La Masia product Xavi Simons.

The Lev Yashin award for the best goalkeeper features Thibaut Courtois, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and ‘Bono,’ providing La Liga with representation. However, Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez is expected to claim the award following his standout performance in the World Cup final against France.

The Ballon d’Or ceremony is scheduled to take place at 21:00 CEST at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, promising to be an exciting event for football enthusiasts worldwide.

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