Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta were named in FIFA’s three-man shortlist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or award on Thursday.
Argentine international and Barcelona player Messi has won the award, formerly known as World Player of the Year, for the past three years and is favourite again after a dazzling year in front of goal. He is three goals shy of Gerd Muller’s record of 85 strikes in a calendar year that was set in 1972.
While Messi scored 50 goals in la Liga last season Ronaldo was equally prolific with 46. 2008 winner Ronaldo was instrumental in Real Madrid’s Spanish league title last season and helped Portugal reach the semi-finals of the European championship.
Iniesta played an key role in helping Spain win Euro 2012 when he was named as the tournament’s best player. The 2010 Ballon d’Or runner-up went on to win UEFA Best Player in Europe Award for the 2011–2012 season.
The candidates for Coach of the Year were also whittled down to three. Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho enjoyed a fantastic year guiding his side to the Liga title at the expense of arch rivals Barcelona and did so with a record points total in the process.
Pep Guardiola stepped down of Barcelona at the end of last season but before leaving he guided the Catalans to the Copa del Rey title with a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the final.
Making up the coaching trio is Vicente Del Bosque who led Spain to the Euro 2012 title, their third consecutive major championship crown. The winners of all of the awards will be announced in Zurich on 7 January.