What time is the Ballon d’Or? All you need to know ahead of tonight’s gala ceremony

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manuel Neuer and Lionel Messi are up for the most prestigious individual award in world football
The
great, good and not-so-good of world football will gather in
Switzerland today to see the world’s best player of 2014 crowned.
Although the ceremony is taking place in January it will honour those who had success in 2014.
Cristiano
Ronaldo is favourite to retain the award he won last year after helping
Real Madrid to a tenth European crown, but he faces competition from
World Cup winner Manuel Neuer and the tournament’s best player Lionel
Messi.
There will also be a host of other awards handed out tonight.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the ceremony.
What time does the Ballon d’Or take place?
The FIFA Ballon d’Or gala takes place in Kongresshaus, Zurich, from 6.30pm today.
The
award nominees will be holding pre-ceremony press conferences from
13.30pm to 4pm, while the stars will start arriving on the red carpet
from 5pm.
Can I watch it on TV?
British
Eurosport will be showing the ceremony live from 6.15pm, while FIFA.com
will be streaming the pre-ceremony press conferences, red carpet
arrivals and the ceremony.
The crowning of this year’s Ballon d’Or is scheduled for 6.52pm.
Who is up for the award?
AFPChampion: Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to win the Ballon d’Or
Cristiano Ronaldo is the favourite for the award after a stellar 2014.
He
scored 31 La Liga goals in 30 games last season, and he has managed to
go to another level still this campaign, scoring a barely believable 26
goals in just 16 league games.
The 29-year-old
also scored on the biggest club occasion of them all as he helped Los
Blancos to a tenth European Cup with a 4-1 win in Lisbon over city
rivals Atletico, and he finished the 2013/14 Champions League season
with 17 goals in 11 games.
The only
disappointment in 2014 was a poor World Cup when he failed to inspire
Portugal, who were dumped out in the group stages.
FIFAKeeper: Manuel Neuer could become the first goalkeeper to win the award
Manuel
Neuer has been backed into a strong second favourite in the past week
and there is a growing suspicion he could become the first goalkeeper to
win the prestigious award.
Neuer
has re-defined his position this season with some eye-catching
goalkeeping. He isn’t afraid to move into defence and become an extra
passing option for his team, while he has regularly charged out of his
area to tackle attackers anywhere inside his own half.
The
28-year-old was also a key member of the Germany side which won the
World Cup in Brazil, although he was lucky to escape punishment for a
rash charge into Gonzalo Higuain in the final.
Neuer has already become the first goalkeeper in eight years to make the shortlist, could he know become the first winner?
Lionel Messi was voted as the best player at the World Cup in Brazil
Lionel
Messi won this award for four years in a row between 2009 and 2012, but
he lost his title to Ronaldo last year and he is the outsider of the
three to regain it in Zurich tonight.
After
scoring 46 goals in 32 games two seasons ago it was always going to be
difficult for the 27-year-old to follow that up last term, and although
28 goals in 31 league games is not exactly a shabby return, it is
unlikely to be enough to win the Ballon d’Or for a fifth time.
Messi
did manage four goals in Brazil and was named the World Cup’s best
player, but his tournament ended in disappointment as Argentina were
beaten by Germany in the final.
So far this
season Messi has scored 24 goals in 24 games, although there are reports
he isn’t happy with life under new Barca coach Luis Enrique.
What other awards are up for grabs?
Six other individual awards will be handed out tonight, while the FIFA/FIFPro World XI will also be announced.
The women’s player of the year is a battle between Germany’s Nadine Kessler, Brazil’s Marta and Abby Wambach of the USA.
There
is an award for men’s and women’s coach of the year. For the men Carlo
Ancelotti faces competition from Joachim Low and Diego Simeone, and the
women’s award will go to one of Ralf Kellermann, Maren Meinert and Norio
Sasaki.
Stephanie Roche will be hoping to land
the Puskas award after her stunning strike in Ireland, but she is up
against James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie for their goals in the
World Cup.
The Fair Play award is self
explanatory, while the Presidential award will be handed out by Sepp
Blatter to someone who has made a ‘superlative contribution to football
without seeking to monopolise the limelight’. Ironic, eh?
Who will win the 2014 FIFA Ballon D’Or?
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Manuel Neuer
Have your say!

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