Thomas Muller was the runner up to Messi and could be prominent again if Germany can repeat as world champions, with Toni Kroos and Manuel Neuer also likely to be integral to Die Mannschaft‘s hopes.
Neymar 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, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba will have the chance to flourish and 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.