Clasico heroics won’t help Ronaldo and Neymar challenge Messi for the Ballon d’Or

Time is up. Even Cristiano Ronaldo admitted recently that Lionel Messi will win the Ballon d’Or this year and even if the Portuguese produces a match-winning performance in the Clasico clash on Saturday, it will be too late for either he or Neymar to stake a final claim for the individual award.

Ronaldo went on to win the Ballon d’Or in 2013 after the voting period was extended following his heroics in the World Cup play-offs against Sweden. A repeat of that, however, seems highly unlikely this time around.

Messi is the huge favourite to win the prestigious prize in Zurich next January after leading Barcelona to the treble in 2014-15. And even though he has missed the last seven weeks through injury and seen Neymar shine in his absence, it is hard to to see voters opting for the Brazilian over the Argentine.

Neymar won the same trophies as Messi in 2015, finished as top scorer in the Champions League last season and has led Barca brilliantly ever since the Argentine’s injury against Las Palmas on September 26, but over the year as a whole it would be difficult to conclude he has been more important than Leo.

Likewise Luis Suarez and Ronaldo. The Portuguese has remained prolific in 2015, yet he and Messi have 45 goals each this year and that with the Barca forward sidelined for almost two months.

In any case, voters still have time to decide. But not long because the voting period closes on Friday, one day before the Clasico. So whatever Ronaldo, Neymar or Suarez achieve in the latest edition of the famous fixture, it will not influence the outcome of the Ballon d’Or.

“In terms of individual [performances] I probably did the best season of my career, which is good. I was the highest scorer in Europe,” Ronaldo said last week. “[But] this kind of trophy depends on votes and Messi won competitions. He won the Champions League and he won La Liga.”

So too did Franck Ribery with Bayern Munich in 2012-13, yet Ronaldo walked away with the award ahead of the Frenchman and Messi. That year, however, there was no clear candidate like this time, with Bayern’s success owing more to collective brilliance than individual talent.

This time, a Clasico performance from Cristiano could have thrown a spanner in the works despite the Portuguese’s poor form of late and given him a chance of claiming the prize from Messi. But for the three-time winner, for Neymar, for Suarez and everybody else, it comes a day too late.