Retiring France star Zinedine Zidane heads the list of players on the short list for the 2006 World Cup MVP award -- the adidas Golden Ball.
Zidane is one of seven players in Sunday's final who were nominated for the award. Three Frenchmen -- Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Zidane -- and four Italians -- goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, central defender Fabio Cannavaro, midfielder Andrea Pirloand fullback Gianluca Zambrotta -- were nominated by FIFA's Technical Study Group.
Other nominations for this year's award are: Maniche (Portugal), Michael Ballack (Germany) andMiroslav Klose (Germany).
The winner will be picked by journalists attending the World Cup and announced on Monday.
Zidane didn't win the award in 1998 when he led France to the World Cup title, scoring twice in the final against Brazil. The award went to Ronaldo, who was sick on the day of the final and had a poor game.
Previous winners are Italy's Paolo Rossi (1982), Argentina's Diego Maradona (1986), Italy's Salvatore Schillaci (1990), Brazilians Romario(1994) and Ronaldo (1998) and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn (2002).
Portugal's 'moral victory'
Portuguese media bemoaned their national team's 1-0 loss to France in the semifinals of the World Cup, noting that only a controversial penalty call separated it from the Blues.
"Portugal deserved more," was the headline in theJornal de Noticias. "The enormous effort of the Portuguese was not enough to beat the cold French."
"Never, not even in 1966, were we so close to reaching the World Cup final," said sports daily A Bola. "At the end of the day it wasn't just a dream. We were not worse."
In Portugal's only other appearance in the World Cup final four, it lost to host England in the 1966 semifinals.
"Once again it was an unfair end," added Diario de Noticias. "There is little consolation in saying it, but this time we really had a moral victory."