Stoichkov backs Barcelona's MSN to dominate Ballon d'Or voting

The club icon has backed three Catalan stars for a podium finish, and says only Real Madrid can stop the Spanish champions winning La Liga

Barcelona icon Hristo Stoichkov has backed treble-winning trio Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to dominate the final standings of the 2015 Ballon d’Or.

The three forwards, along with Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Ivan Rakitic, have all been named on the 23-man shortlist released by FIFA on Tuesday, with the Catalans’ exploits last term likely to influence voters.

Stoichkov personally considers Iniesta a candidate for a podium finish, but also expects the members of Barca’s fearsome three-man attack to dominate.

“Messi will win the Ballon d’Or, Neymar and Suarez will be on the podium. Iniesta should also be among the three nominees,” Stoichkov said to Onda Cero.

Barca and Real Madrid are level on 18 points after eight Liga matches so far this season alongside Celta Vigo, while Atletico Madrid and Villarreal are only two points behind.

Despite a more open start to the Spanish top flight, Stoichkov has little doubt that only Madrid will be capable of fighting the reigning champions for the title this term.

“I don’t see anything to worry Barca and Madrid. The difference will be when they play each other,” he said. “I’m relaxed about Barca because I know they’ll keep winning things.

“It looks impossible that Real Madrid will drop six or eight points to Barcelona before Christmas. When you let in goals there will always be doubts, but you have to look at how they played in the last two games.”

The former Bulgaria star has also called for scrutiny on the form of Neymar to be brought to an end.

The Brazil captain has been heavily in the spotlight in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi, answering recent critics with four goals in the 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.

“I’ve no doubt over Barca’s quality. Despite the injuries, the team looks well prepared. Now everyone talks about Neymar but want I want is a team.”

20

10 2015
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