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FIFA Ballon d’Or Shortlist of Three

posted 21 Dec 2014, 00:59 by Sportech Nz   [ updated 21 Dec 2014, 01:23 ]
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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer were named as the final three candidates for the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or. The winner will be announced on 13 January 2015 NZT

Last year's winner Ronaldo is hot favourite to retain the trophy, ahead of four-time winner Messi.

But Bayern Munich stopper Neuer will hope to take the individual accolade, after becoming just the third goalkeeper to be shortlisted in the 21st century and with Lev Yashin the only previous keeper to win the award - back in 1963.

Portugal international Ronaldo is favourite for the award, after shining throughout the year and leading Real Madrid to success in the Champions League, Copa del Rey and European Super Cup.

The 29-year-old has been in breathtaking goalscoring form, netting 55 goals and adding 19 assists for club and country across the calender year in just 55 appearances.

Great rival Messi, second to Ronaldo in 2013, has 52 goals and 21 assists for Barcelona and Argentina in 2014, but it's been a year of near misses for the 27-year-old.

Barca came runners-up to Atletico Madrid in La Liga, were beaten by Real in the aforementioned Copa del Rey final and despite Messi's prompting, Argentina reached the World Cup final, where they were beaten by Germany 1-0.

However, Messi's performances at the tournament in Brazil saw him awarded the Golden Ball for best player, while he has also broken goalscoring records for both Los Cules and La Liga.

Bayern keeper Neuer had arguably the greatest year of all however.

The 28-year-old won both the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal with the Bavarian club, before winning the World Cup with his country in Brazil.

Neuer was awarded the World Cup Golden Glove, named in the World Cup Dream Team and named Footballer of the Year in Germany for the second time.

The list of 23 Ballon d’Or contenders:

Gareth Bale, Wales, Real Madrid
Karim Benzema, France, Real Madrid
Diego Costa, Spain, Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois, Belgium, Chelsea
Angel Di Maria, Argentina, Manchester United
Mario Gotze, Germany, Bayern Munich
Eden Hazard, Belgium, Chelsea
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain
Andres Iniesta, Spain, Barcelona
Toni Kroos, Germany, Real Madrid
Philipp Lahm, Germany, Bayern Munich
Javier Mascherano, Argentina, Barcelona
Lionel Messi, Argentina, Barcelona
Thomas Muller, Germany, Bayern Munich
Manuel Neuer, Germany, Bayern Munich
Neymar, Brazil, Barcelona
Paul Pogba, France, Juventus
Sergio Ramos, Spain, Real Madrid
Arjen Robben, Netherlands, Bayern Munich
James Rodriguez, Colombia, Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Real Madrid
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany, Bayern Munich
Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast, Manchester City