July 09, 2008

According to reports in the Italian press, Spain stars Iker Casillas and Fernando Torres are the two favorites for this year's Ballon d'Or.

Prior to Euro 2008, Cristiano Ronaldo was believed to be the frontrunner to win the prestigious prize following a prolific season for Manchester United in which he scored 42 goals in all competitions.

However, Ronaldo may have harmed his chances of winning the prize after a relatively poor Euros. The Portuguese attacker has also faced constant criticism that he fails to perform in the big games.

As a result, sections of the Italian press claim that Casillas and Torres are the two main favorites ahead of Ronaldo.

Casillas had a stunning club campaign for Real Madrid, playing a key part in its La Liga success. He was also a major protagonist in Spain's historic Euro 2008 triumph, particularly in the quarterfinal penalty-shootout win over Italy.

Torres was also decisive in Austria and Switzerland, scoring the winner in the 1-0 final victory over Germany. The 24-year-old had a superb debut season for his club, Liverpool, scoring 33 goals in all competitions.

Beneath Casillas and Torres, the three other players who are said to be in with a chance of winning the Golden Ball are Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Russia star Andrei Arhsavin.

The last Spaniard to win the Ballon d'Or was former Inter and Barcelona legend Luis Suarez, way back in 1960.

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