Despite the three-man shortlist being announced, it appears the bookmakers believe the award of the 2012 Fifa Ballon d’Or is already a near foregone conclusion.
Three Liga superstars have been named as those still in the running, with Lionel Messi the odds-on favourite at 1/4 (1.25) to collect the prize for a fourth consecutive season .
Cristiano Ronaldo is the second favourite with the Real Madrid man having finished second behind the Argentine in both 2011 and 2009. Ronaldo is available at 4/1 (5.00) with the same firm.
Andres Iniesta is a 8/1 (9.0) chance with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Iker Casillas and Xavi all missing out on the final shortlist.
Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions in the 2011-12 season, as Barcelona finished runners-up behind Madrid, with Ronaldo playing an important role in the victory and scoring an impressive 60 goals for his club in all competitions.
The Argentina international is closing in on a milestone 85 goals in a calendar year, a record currently held by Gerd Muller, a performance that – according to the bookmakers – make him much more likely to secure the Ballon d’Or prize than Ronaldo.
Iniesta finished second behind his Blaugrana team-mate in 2010, during Spain’s World Cup-winning year, and despite the defence of their European Championship crown in Poland and Ukraine last summer, he is only rated as a 8/1 (9.0) outsider.
Messi and Ronaldo have finished in first and second in three of the last four seasons and despite an impressive year for Iniesta, it seems unlikely that the 28-year-old midfielder will stop that statistic being extended.
The award ceremony will take place on January 7 in Zurich, Switzerland.
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Jim Knight is Betting Editor at Goal.com and has been tipping football games since he was old enough to place a bet. He is a Leicester City fan, writer and member of the We Are Going Up Podcast
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