FIFA has announced the initial short-list for the FIFA Ballon d’Or for Men’s Football with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the race for the prized title.
The list of 23 footballers include the usual suspects Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but the surprising exclusion of Luis Suarez has caught many eye-balls. The former Liverpool striker had a stellar season under Brendan Rodgers and led Liverpool to an incredible title-chase eventually caving in to Manchester City in the end. The striker also helped Uruguay qualify from a tricky group stage in the World Cup but it is perhaps his ‘ill-famed’ bite on Giorgio Chiellini that led to his exclusion from this esteemed list.
World cup heroes Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer and Bastian Schweinsteiger have made it to the initial short-list for the Ballon d’Or. All 6 German footballers also represented Bayern Munich in the 2013-2014 season where Pep Guardiola led the club to win the German Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA World Cup. Both Guardiola and Joachim Loew have themselves been nominated for the FIFA World Coach Of The Year.
Meanwhile Spanish champions Atletico Madrid are represented in the Ballon d’Or nominations by Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa with Diego Simeone earning himself a well-deserved nomination.
Real Madrid won the much-anticipated La Decima after beating Atletico Madrid in a dramatic finale and the club is being led by Cristiano Ronaldo in the nominations. The Portuguese superstar won the last Ballon d’Or after edging past Lionel Messi and Ribery and is expected to sweep this year’s awards too if he continues his blitzkrieg.
He is accompanied by Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos though Luka Modric failed to make the cut. Carlo Ancelotti too has been nominated for the World Coach of the Year and can be expected to win the award after grabbing his third Champions League trophy.
Meanwhile Argentine is led by coach Alejandro Sabella who led the national team to the finals and is accompanied by Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Mascherano in the players’ nominations for the Ballon d’Or. Though Messi won the Player of the Tournament in the World Cup and captained Argentina to the finals, fellow Argentine Angel Di Maria is also a favourite to be in the top-3 short-list.
Brazilian Neymar has also made it to the initial short—list for the Ballon d’Or and is accompanied with youngsters Eden Hazard and Paul Pogba. English champions Manchester City on the other hand are solely represent by Yaya Toure who had a stellar season under the Pellegrini who himself has been selected in the World Coach of the Year category.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta, Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez too have been nominated for the FIFA Ballon D’Or trophy.
Meanwhile in the FIFA World Coach of the Year category, Diego Simeone, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Joachim Loew lead the race and are accompanied with Antonio Conte, Juergen Klinsmann, Jose Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Alejandro Sabella, Louis van Gaal for the prized honour.
The top 3 short-list is due to be announced on December 1 with the awards gala due to be held on 12th January, 2015.
Cover image courtesy http://www.fifa.com/ballon-dor/index.html