The Dutchman’s performance in the Champions League has seen him become third-favourite to win the coveted award next year, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
If you had suggested at half-time in the Champions League final on Saturday that Arjen Robben would become one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or for 2013 you would have been laughed at.
The winger’s profligacy was infuriating for Bayern Munich fans, who were reminded all-too-vividly of his wastefulness against Chelsea 12 months ago.
However, his turnaround in fortunes in the latter 45 minutes will live long in the memory. His created the first goal for Mario Mandzukic to tap home and then scored the winner with less than two minutes left in the game to make it 2-1.
As is often the case following a continental or international final, the star performer has hogged the headlines and, as a result, rocketed to 12/1 (13.0) to win the Ballon d’Or. The only two players whom Paddy Power perceive as having more chance of winning the prestigious award.
Lionel Messi, of course, remains the favourite. The Barcelona star has triumphed in the previous four ceremonies and has continued to excel despite being hampered by a hamstring injury.
Paddy Power have the Argentine magician available at an industry-best 1/1 (2.0) – mouth-wateringly good value if you think he is nailed on for a record fifth-straight win.
However, many punters might feel that Barca’s blundering Champions League semi-final games against Bayern will have had an effect on who voters will root for when the ballot papers arrive. Messi remains an undisputed forerunner in this race but could he sit this year out?
Cristiano Ronaldo is just behind Messi odds-wise, as is the case every season it seems, and he is available at 11/8 (2.38) to win his second Ballon d’Or. Although he has been superb throughout 2013, Real Madrid’s poor 2012-13 campaign will have hampered his chances of success this time, though there is still another seven months for the Portuguese forward to impress.
If reports are to be believed, the Santiago Bernabeu may gain another contender for the individual honour this summer. Gareth Bale has been heavily linked with a move from Tottenham as he continues to develop in world-class leaps and bounds. The Welsh winger is available at 20/1 (21.0).
Also at 20/1 (21.0), joint-fourth favourite as of the end of May, Robert Lewandowski has muscled his way into the reckoning by being consistently prolific in the Bundesliga and helping fire Borussia Dortmund into the Champions League final.
Although Lewandowski did not score in the showpiece at Wembley, his four goals in BVB’s home leg against the Blancos in the last four will not be forgotten anytime soon. If Monday’s suggestions from his agent are to be believed then the striker will be under Pep Guardiola’s wing at Bayern next season.
If you’re a punter that likes to think outside of the box then Camp Nou’s latest addition Neymar could get your betting juices flowing. Paddy Power have him available at 50/1 (51.0) – lower odds than Manchester United forward Robin van Persie at 60.1 (61.0), Paris Saint-Germain talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 80/1 (81.1) and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez at 125/1 (126.1).
However, as of the halfway stage in 2013, Robben’s heroics in Europe certainly make him the pick of the bunch for those looking for value in what looked to have become a boring two-horse race between the phenomenal Messi and Ronaldo.
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