[AWARDS] It's Barcelona vs. Real Madrid for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi and Xavi against Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi has won the last two awards and could join Michel Platini as the only winner of three straight Ballon d'Or awards.
Last year, the shortlist was all-Barca: Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Both Messi and Ronaldo finished their club seasons with 53 goals. Ronaldo's 40 La Liga goals were a new record.
Messi has 27 goals for Barca since the start of the 2011-12 season and Ronaldo has 21 for Real Madrid.
Real Madrid leads the 2011-12 La Liga race, but Barcelona's 2011 La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles make Messi the overwhelming favorite to capture the top international player award voted on by national team coaches and captains and journalists.
Brazilian Ronaldo (1996, 1997, 2002) and Zinedine Zidane (1998, 2000, 2003) are the only three-time winners of the FIFA Player of the Year award, which began in 1991.
Besides Platini, former Dutch greats Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten won three Ballon d'Or trophies awarded by France Football.