Ronaldo, Messi, Buffon up for UEFA Player of the Year; who should win the award?

The UEFA Men's Player of the Year shortlist is out, and as expected Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and Lionel Messi of Barcelona have made the cut. The two La Liga superstars are joined by Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Two Real Madrid players and teammates of Ronaldo just missed the cut: Luka Modric, who finished fourth, and Toni Kroos, who finished fifth. 

It's no surprise that Ronaldo and Messi are on the list, as both have won the award twice previously. The winner will be announced on Thursday, Aug. 24 during the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco.

As for their chances, here's how I feel things will shake out based on the numbers and accolades:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 46 matches. Not nearly the Messi numbers but he did lead the Champions League with 12 goals and helped his team win the competition and La Liga. That, in the end, should be enough to see him win this award.

2. Lionel Messi

The Barca man scored 54 goals in 52 games last season, an incredible season that may be overlooked due to Barca's lack of trophies. The Catalan club only won the Copa del Rey title last season, and that could be what separates the two superstars this season. That said, we still think he has a really solid shot.

3. Gianluigi Buffon

No goalkeeper has ever won the award, with Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer finishing second in 2013-14. Buffon helped Juventus win the Serie A for the sixth consecutive season and reach the Champions League final, where it lost to Real Madrid. 

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Full Bio

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