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It’s that time of year again when FIFA prepare to announce the shortlist of nominees for the Ballon d’Or and the Puskas Award which, among others, will be presented to the winners at a special gala on the 11th of January 2016. The Puskas award is for the ‘most beautiful goal of the year’, and the ten nominated goals, scored between September 2014 and September 2015, will be reduced to the final three on 30th November.
Lat year’s winning goal was the wonder volley scored by James Rodriguez for Colombia against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, when he controlled instantly on the chest and swivelled to rifle an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net. The ten players who hope to emulate him each scored goals at a variety of different levels, with pre-season friendly and League Two goals, alongside Cup final and Champions League goals from the likes of Lionel Messi.
With the ten being reduced to three in a few days, it makes perfect sense to look at the prices now to grab a little bit of value before the odds plummet.
The FIFA Criteria
The criteria for a winning goal, as defined by FIFA, lists the following four points:
The winner is decided by public vote with everyone entitled to vote now, and the ballot continuing after the final three are announced.
The Shortlisted Goals
You can see videos of each of the goals on the official FIFA website, and below we have listed the odds for each contender.
David Ball – +2000 with Paddy Power
David Ball of Fleetwood might not be the kind of name you’d expect to see on this type of list, but it just goes to show that great goals can be scored anywhere; even in a League Two game against Preston. With just five minutes remaining as Fleetwood searched for an equalizer, Ball had the composure to fox a defender with a drag back on the edge of the box, before unleashing a pinpoint chip that sailed over the head of the Preston ‘keeper.
Gonzalo Castro – +1500 with 888Sport
Castro scored his wondergoal for Real Sociedad in a match against Deportivo la Coruna, and it is well worth a watch. The Uruguayan appeared to have few options when a lofted diagonal ball was sent in his direction wide of the goal just inside the penalty area. His reaction was to lash a powerful volley first time which flew into the top corner from a seemingly impossible angle.
Alessandro Florenzi – +1200 with BetVictor
Alessandro Florenzi waited for one of the biggest stages to post his entry for the Puskas Award – a Champions League tie for Roma against Barcelona. After surging over the halfway line from right back, he spotted the Barca ‘keeper off his line and sent an inch-perfect lob over his despairing retreat; reminiscent of David Beckham’s iconic goal for Manchester United.
Wendell Lira – +2000 with Unibet
Brazilian Wendell Lira finds himself without a club at the moment, yet could also find himself sharing a stage with the world’s best if he makes it into the final three. His goal for Goianesia against Athletico GO was a combination of great team play and individual brilliance. He moved onto a delicate chip over the defence to fire a thunderous bicycle kick into the net as he turned and fell.
Carli Lloyd – +1400 with Skybet
If the importance of the match should be taken into account, Carli Lloyd’s goal in the World Cup final to bring up her hat trick is surely worth a mention. Not only that, it was a superb piece of skill by the American player. Having won the ball back, she progressed over the halfway line and sent a huge lob over the top of the retreating Japanese ‘keeper.
Lionel Messi – -120 with Paddy Power
However, the short favourite and likely winner has to be the mercurial talent that is Lionel Messi. He is already as short as -600 to scoop the Ballon d’Or, and it would be no surprise to see him sweep the board with this one too. The goal for Barca in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao featured everything that is brilliant about the diminutive Argentinian. Running from close to the halfway line he evaded several defenders, refused to go down as they fouled him, and kept his head when he got in the box to find the bottom corner superbly.
Philippe Mexes – +1600 with BetVictor
Although it was scored in a pre-season competition, Philippe Mexes’ goal for AC Milan against Inter Milan was surely a thing of beauty. Hovering on the edge of the box for a corner, Mexes met the delivery full on the volley to send a fierce shot back in the direction from which it came and straight into the top corner.
Marcel Ndjeng – +1500 with 888Sport
Another pre-season goal is that of Marcel Ndjeng, when playing for Paderborn vs Bolton Wanderers. When a defensive header fell to him close to the centre circle he hit a stupendous volley first time that never seemed to go higher than the crossbar, yet still evaded the ‘keeper as it flew into the roof of the net.
Esteban Ramirez – +2000 with Unibet
Esteban Ramirez seemed more surprised than anyone when his piece of improvisation resulted in a goal. In a Costa Rican match between Herediano and Saprissa, he controlled on his chest and dodged a defender with a deft header before powering an unstoppable volley into the top corner.
Carlos Tevez – +2000 with Betfair
Carlos Tevez scored a beauty for Juventus against Parma, with a mazy run that took him past three defenders and resulted in him slotting past the ‘keeper, but unfortunately for Tevez, it still pales into insignificance when compared to Messi’s slaloming dribble.
There’s little reason to avoid backing Messi, and he’s worth a punt before the odds tumble, but Carli Lloyd may also be in with a shout after scoring an absolute worldy to bring up the hat trick in a World Cup final – it doesn’t get much better than that.
UPDATE: As of the 30th November, FIFA have shortlisted the 10 goals, down to a final 3. Unfortunately, Carli Lloyd didn’t make it, but Messi’s goal has now shortened from -120 to -345 and is the over-whelming favourite. The other 2 goals to make it to the final cut are those of Alessandro Florenzi and Wendell Lira.
Lionel Messi to win the Puskas Award
Ballon d’Or Ceremony, 11th January 2016
Carli Lloyd to win the Puskas Award
Ballon d’Or Ceremony, 11th January 2016
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