FIFA on Thursday announced the finalists for the 2012 Ballon d’Or: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF and Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona. The final three were chosen from a 23-man shortlist.
Messi, who has won the award the last three years in a row, is the obvious favorite, as his 82 goals since January leave him just three shy of Gerd Müller's record of 85 for club and country, which he has held since 1972. However, the Guardian points out that both Ronaldo and Iniesta provide strong competition; the former led Real Madrid to the La Liga title in 2012, while scoring 60 goals in all competitions, while Iniesta had another outstanding year for both club and country, leading Spain to the Euro 2012 title during which he was named the tournament’s best player.
Brazil’s Marta and Americans Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were nominated for the 2012 Women’s Player of the Year award, while Vicente Del Bosque (Spain), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) and Pep Guardiola (FC Barcelona) were nominated for Coach of the Year. Bruno Bini (France), Norio Sasaki (Japan) andPia Sundhage (USA, now Sweden) are nominated for Women’s Coach of the Year.