Last week, France football magazine and FIFA released a 23-man shortlist for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or award. The award, which merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2010, is presented annually to the world’s best, overall football player. The 2012 award looks set to be hotly contested with outstanding players from all over the world making it on to the prestigious shortlist, with the winner to be crowned on January 7th at the glamorous, Ballon d’Or ball in Zurich.
As always with such awards, picking a winner will be difficult with the array of footballing talent on display and this year’s candidates are arguably some of the strongest of all time. Despite the strength in the field of possible winners, there are two household names are sure to dominate proceedings: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi seemingly continues to improve with every game he plays and his influence on the star studded Barcelona team is becoming insatiable to watch. The Argentinean maestro has conjured up a staggering 75 goals for club and country in the calendar year, a year that by his team’s standards has been a distinctly average one. It’s difficult to believe that he is only 25 years of age and could well have his best footballing years ahead of him! Messi has won the award for the last 3 years and despite the performances of his great rival Ronaldo, looks favourite to claim the gong for the 4th time this year.
…spearheaded Madrid’s success…
Cristiano Ronaldo is perceived by many to be in the shadow of Messi but the Real Madrid magician is very much the main man in his team of ‘Galacticos’ in the Spanish capital. Ronaldo, the world’s most expensive player, has managed to score 56 goals this year and spearheaded Madrid’s success last season and their continuing improvement under Jose Mourinho. Ronaldo’s achievements this year could pose a threat to Messi’s hold on the crown, an award which he hasn’t won since 2008.
Despite the apparent dominance of Messi and Ronaldo, plenty of other names illuminate the eye-catching list. Two more La Liga stars look likely to contest 3rd place: Andreas Iniesta of Barcelona and Radamel Falcao of Athletico Madrid. Iniesta’s wizardry and craft often provide the prefect platform from which Messi and his Barcelona team mates can score from and his performances this year have not been ignored. He has impressed on a national level too with a Euro 2012 winners medal and player of the tournament award, Iniesta can be proud of his performances in 2012. Falcao has exploded on to the scene in Spain and is seen as a bit of dark horse for the Ballon d’Or crown. Due to his exceptional performances, particularly in the latter half of the year, he has fast become one of the hottest properties in world football, with teams from all over the globe running the rule over the exciting Colombian.
Other nominees to look out for include Brazilian starlet Neymar, former Chelsea hit-man Didier Drogba and the rejuvenated Italian Andrea Pirlo. The Premier league is represented by the two Manchester teams, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli of City and Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie of United. All 5 men have had influential seasons in England but aren’t considered to be up there with the front runners.