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Women's Ballon d'Or 2023: Spain dominate nominations shortlist

Women's Ballon d'Or 2023: Spain dominate nominations shortlist
Copyright Abbie Parr/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Abbie Parr/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Ben Kelly
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Midfielder Aitana Bonmati is the favourite to pick up the award.

The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious individual award for male and female players in football. This year, the ceremony will take place in Paris, France, on 30th October.

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Last week's Football Now episode looked at the men's candidates. This week, we take a look at the nominations for the women's award.

It's been another groundbreaking year for the progress of women's football. The 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was a huge success. Many are viewing the tournament as a watershed moment for the sport. Spain were crowned champions of the world after a 1-nil win over England in Sydney.

It was also a successful year for Spanish football at the club level. Barcelona won the league and the European double, defeating Wolfsburg in the women's Champions League final in Eindhoven. Barcelona were 2-0 down at half-time, but goals from Patricia Guijarro and Fridolina Rolfö secured a historic comeback.

Performing well at the World Cup will influence the candidates in the Ballon d'Or, and the men's 2022 Qatar World Cup is no different. Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland are expected to compete for the Best Player of the Year award. Spain's female team have received five nominations because of their triumph in Oceania, even if antics off the pitch overshadowed it. The team was successful in Australia despite these issues.

Spain were victorious down under
Spain were victorious down underAbbie Parr/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Semra Hunter, presenter for La Liga TV, explained to Football Now how progression at the club level in the game has positively influenced the national team.

"I feel like the Federation would love to take credit and say that they're the reason why Spain won the World Cup, but pretty much anybody who follows women's football closely in Spain will tell you that's really not the case," explained Semra.

"It's actually the other way around. At the club level, things have been progressing and developing for the last several years now to the point that it's actually had a spill-over effect. So, I think it's a really wonderful reflection of Spanish football."

Let's take a look at the complete list of Ballon d'Or Feminin nominations and who is worthy of taking the crown.

The men's and women's Ballon d'Or nominations for 2023

Spain's Aitana Bonmatí is at the top of the list after winning Liga F and the Women's Champions League with Barça while also being a key component of Spain's World Cup-winning midfield.

Her co-patriot, Alexia Putellas, has won the award for two consecutive years. But she has been plagued by injuries that have allowed Bonmatí to flourish in a similar position. Aitana also won the FIFA Best Player of the Year and the World Cup Player of the Tournament on an individual basis in 2023.

BBC journalist Emma Sanders told Football Now that Bonmatí is the standout choice for this year's Ballon d'Or Feminin.

"I saw Bonmatí play live at the Nou Camp at the end of last season, and it was one of the best live individual performances I've ever seen in the women's game. She's so creative. She sees passes that nobody else sees.

"I am so convinced that she is the best player in the world, I'm not even sure it needs a vote!"

Bonmati has been Spain's star player this year
Bonmati has been Spain's star player this yearAbbie Parr/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

There are, however, 29 other names on the list. Defeated World Cup finalists England have four contenders, including midfielder Georgia Stanway and goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Sam Kerr was the face of Australia's World Cup campaign despite starting the tournament with an injury. In the semi-final, she scored one of the finest goals of the entire tournament against England, but it wasn't enough for the Matildas to advance.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Alexandra Popp is showing no sign of slowing down. She scored 31 goals in the Frauen Bundesliga last season and a goal in the Champions League final.

An honourable mention should also go to Colombia's Linda Caicedo. At 18 years old, she's the youngest player on the list and the breakout star of this summer's World Cup.

It's a fantastic achievement for all the players nominated for this award. However, if Bonmatí is to be crowned the Best Female Player of the Year in Paris, it'll be genuinely well-deserved after she has played a stellar year on the pitch.

Journalist • Ben Kelly

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