The rivalry between Barcelona forward, Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s hit man Cristiano Ronaldo will be carried once again to FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award as the duo alongside German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer have been shortlisted for the prestigious award.
World soccer governing body, FIFA and France football yesterday released the three-man shortlist for the 2014 award.
Ronaldo, 29, could win the prestigious individual award for a third time after lifting the trophy in 2008 and 2013.
Ronaldo played a key role in Madrid’s successful Champions League campaign last season, scoring 17 goals to set a new record for most goals scored in the competition in one season.
Barcelona star Messi, meanwhile, is in contention to scoop the accolade for a record fifth time, and has hit top form in recent weeks to add weight to his case.
The 27-year-old attacker did not win any major trophies with Barcelona in 2014, but enjoyed a successful season on a personal level as he became both La Liga and Champions League all-time top scorer in November.
Neuer, finally, makes the three-man shortlist for the first time in his career and could become the first goalkeeper since Lev Yashin in 1963 to be voted the world’s best footballer.
The 28-year-old won the Bundesliga title and DFB Pokal with Bayern Munich, before crowning a superb year by winning the World Cup with Germany.
FIFA and France Football will announce the winner on January 12 at the Fifa Ballon d’Or Gala.
…As Ancelotti, Simeone, Low fight for World Coach of the Year
FIFA and France Football have announced that Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Germany boss Joachim Low will contest the 2014 World Coach of the Year award.
Ancelotti guided Madrid to their 10th European Cup success in his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, while also steering them to Copa del Rey glory.
Simeone was a key factor in Atletico’s first La Liga win since 1996 and also guided them to the final of the Champions League, where they were beaten by Real Madrid after extra time.
Low, meanwhile, was at last rewarded for his good work with Germany as they were crowned world champions in Brazil after previously reaching the final at Euro 2008 as well as making it to the last four at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
The World Coach of the Year award went to Jupp Heynckes in 2013 following his treble-winning campaign with Bayern, while Vicente del Bosque, Josep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho emerged victorious in the preceding years.