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The final touches are being put on at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland, where on Monday evening at 6.15pm CET the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala will be the centre of attention for the entire football world.
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr, who are two of the three finalists for the award, will travel to Zurich on Monday and will be in attendance when the envelope is unsealed and the winner's name is called out. For Messi, this is the ninth consecutive year he has been named a finalist for the award, the most coveted individual prize in world football.
Messi is going for his fifth Ballon d'Or, a jaw-dropping feat considering the fact that in the history of the award, he is the only person to have won it more than three times. Four other players have won it exactly three times — Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Cristiano Ronaldo — while just five other players have ever won it twice. Messi won his unprecedented fourth straight Ballon d'Or in 2013 and is now looking to distance himself from the pack.
Messi's teammate at FC Barcelona, Neymar Jr., has been named a finalist for the very first time. The other finalist for this year's award is Real Madrid's Ronaldo, who won the last two editions.
Messi and Ronaldo have scooped up every Ballon d'Or for the last seven years. That number is almost certain to rise to eight on Monday.
The FC Barcelona expedition is scheduled depart from Barcelona-El Prat Airport at noon on Monday, headed by Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Bartomeu will be accompanied by the Vice President, Jordi Mestre; the Football Director, Javier Bordas; the Professionals Sports Director, Albert Soler; and the First Team Technical Secretary, Robert Fernández.
Also joining the Club will be ex-players and Ballon d'Or winners Hristo Stoichkov and Luis Suárez Miramontes.
The FIFPro World XI and other awards
Aside from the Ballon d'Or, FC Barcelona is up for several other awards as well. Ten FCB players out of a total of 55 nominees could be named to the FIFA FIFPro World XI. They include defenders Dani Alves, Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba; midfielders Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic; and forwards Leo Messi, Neymar Jr. and Luis Suárez.
FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is one of three finalists for the Coach of the Year award, along with former Barça and current Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola and Chile national team coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Messi is not only opting for the Ballon d'Or, either. He is also a finalist for the Puskás Award, for the best goal of the year. Messi was nominated for the award for his wonder goal against Athletic Club Bilbao in the 2015 Copa del Rey Final. The other two Puskás finalists are Alessandro Florenzi of AS Roma and the Brazilian Wendell Lira.
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