Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are the two greatest players of our generation, comparable to legends like Pele and Maradona. Between the two of them, they have dominated the Ballon d’Or award, winning it 10 times consecutively since 2008. Could 2018 be the first year to break this monopoly?

Ronaldo is the second favourite to win the Ballon d’Or, behind Croatia’s Luka Modric. The Portuguese superstar was part of the Real Madrid team who won an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League title. Croatia captain Modric was also part of that Real Madrid team while he also played a key role in helping Croatia reach the World Cup final, losing to France 4-2.

The nearly-favourites

Modric isn’t the only star from the World Cup who is high in the odds to win the prestigious award. Kylian Mbappe, the teenage sensation, has fast become one of the world’s best players and with his scintillating skills on the ball, coupled with his rapid pace across the field, he is gaining admirers worldwide. He became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final and despite not winning the Champions League with PSG, he was a key member of the France squad who won their first World Cup since 1998.

France teammate Antoine Griezmann is another star touted as a potential Ballon d’Or winner, having impressed at Atletico Madrid, with 29 goals in 49 appearances last season. As one of France’s top talents, with a World Cup winner’s medal, he is certainly one to watch out for.

The outsiders

It’s fair to say that Mohamed Salah had a superb season at Liverpool, scoring 44 goals in 52 appearances. While Salah may have had an incredible season, he was unable to help Liverpool win any silverware and struggled for form at the World Cup with Egypt, something that wasn’t helped following his injury in the Champions League final.

Eden Hazard is another player who has been expected to challenge Messi and Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or crown, but has so far yet to break the streak. There has been transfer talk linking him with moves to Barcelona and Real Madrid and should either of those moves materialise, it could propel Hazard to a higher level. While Chelsea are by no means a small team, their status compared to the Spanish giants isn’t great. Hazard’s performances at the World Cup helped Belgium reach third place in Russia, losing to France in the semi-final before defeating England in the third-place play-off.

The underdogs

Harry Kane has proven to be a consistent goal scorer for Tottenham and finished as the second highest scorer in the Premier League last season, losing out to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Kane might be worth a bet on though, as he not only reached the semi-finals of the World Cup with England, but also finished as the top scorer of the competition. The only thing holding the Englishman back is the lack of trophies, but with Real Madrid sniffing around for a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, a future Ballon d’Or award could be a realistic target in the future.

Raphael Varane is the last player who could potentially break the Ronaldo-Messi streak, with the French centre back playing alongside Ronaldo and Modric at Real Madrid, winning the historic Champions League title last season. On top of that, Varane was also part of the World Cup winning squad, keeping 4 clean sheets as part of France’s steely defence, while also chipping in with a goal, the opener in the quarter-final against Uruguay. Although he is unlikely to be regularly challenging for the Ballon d’Or award, this season has presented a unique opportunity with both a Champions League and World Cup winner’s medal.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are tied on 5 Ballon d’Ors apiece, and should either of them manage to win the award, they will be able to stake their claim as the best player in the world. Unfortunately there are several talented players who have what it takes to stop them in their tracks, but we’ll have to wait until Monday 3rd December to find out if anyone has done so. In the meantime, you are able to find the latest betting odds on the Ballon d’Or and all of the top divisions here- https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/football/today.