It is hard to look pastA�Cristiano RonaldoA�andA�Lionel MessiA�when it comes to Golden Ball favourites, with Messi having won the prize despite suffering defeat in the final with Argentina in 2014.
Thomas MullerA�was the runner up to Messi and could be prominent again if Germany can repeat as world champions, withA�Toni KroosA�andManuel NeuerA�also likely to be integral toA�Die Mannschaft‘s hopes.
NeymarA�was having a superb World Cup before he was injured in the quarter-finals in 2014, and seems to find another level when he plays for his country as the undisputed star of the team.
If Didier Deschamps can mould his hugely talented France team into a coherent unit,A�Antoine GriezmannA�andPaul PogbaA�will have the chance to flourish andA�Sergio Ramos, you would imagine, will be central to any Spain revival.
Interestingly, though, the Golden Ball has not been won by a player from the World Cup winners since 1994, when Romario was awarded it as Brazil lifted the trophy for a fourth time.
Since then, Ronaldo, Oliver Kahn, Zinedine Zidane and Messi have all been runners up at the tournament and Diego Forlan lost in the third-place play-off with Uruguay.