Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi have been the only winners of the Ballon D'Or for the last 10 years, with host of different players coming making up the third spot each year, names such as Neymar, Griezmann, Neuer, Ribery, Iniesta and Xavi. And this year, Ronaldo, who has won the award for the last four years in a row, is favourite with the bookies to take it again.
Aside from Messi, the other big challenger to Ronaldo this year will be Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has led Liverpool to a Champions League final and was chosen as the Premier League's best player this season, making himself a serious contender to the Real Madrid star. And the performance of both players this evening in the Champions League final in Kiev could be the decisive factor in the judges' decision.
The race couldn't be closer: Ronaldo has scored 50 goals for club and country this season, just two more than Salah. Ronaldo scored 26 of those goals in La Liga, while Salah scored 32 goals in the Premier League, setting a new record previously held by Ronaldo, who netted 31 goals in 2007-08 while playing for Manchester United. Ronaldo will arrive to Kiev more rested than the Liverpool striker. The Real Madrid star has played a total of 3,588 minutes, 501 minutes less than Salah, who has played 4,089.
In this season Champion's League, Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in 1,080 minutes, averaging a goal every 72 minutes of play. Salah, on the other hand, averages a goal every 90 minutes in Europe, having scored 10 goals in 899 minutes.
And the comparisons do not stop there: both players have scored the majority of their goals in the second half of the season – Ronaldo scoring 31 of his 50; Salah netting 25 of his 48. The period of the game in which Ronaldo has scored the most goals is between 76 and 85 minutes. In that space of time, he has scored 11. Interestingly, Salah has scored his highest number of goals (8) during the same period. Similarly, the Portuguese has only scored two goals in the first 10 minute period of games, while Salah has scored three.
As the statistics show, there is very little separating the two players going into final. Both of them will no doubt be aware that the player that lifts the Champions League trophy tonight in Kiev will have put himself ahead in the race for the Ballon D'Or.