22 of the greatest players in the world join 2013 winner Cristiano Ronaldo as nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or Award for the World Player of the Year.
The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will be favored to emerge with the honor for the second year running, although he faces tough competition from a group featuring his rival Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina) and group of six Germans.
It can be no surprise that so many of Germany’s World Cup winning side received recognition. A sign of Bayern Munich’s dominance of the German game, is that all six of the German nominee’s played for Bayern Munich for most of the year, with Toni Kroos having moved to Real Madrid over the summer. Arjen Robben of the Netherlands also plays for the Munich superteam.
Six of the 23 play or played for Real Madrid at some point in 2014, and El Clasico rivals Barcelona placed four of their stars on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Nationally, Spain and Argentina each landed three nominations to place second behind Germany, while Belgium and France had two nominees a piece. One player each from Wales, Portugal, Sweden, Brazil, the Netherlands, Colombia, and the Ivory Coast also received nominations.
Uruguayan bad boy Luis Suarez paid the price for his bad behavior at the World Cup, missing out on a Player of the Year nod, in all likelihood for his bite on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
10 coaching nominees were also named, with U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann among the selections for his work in leading the American team through the World Cup “Group of Death” in Brazil.
Klinsmann is the first American based coach to be nominated for the honor, although it should be pointed out that Coach of the Year was first awarded in 2010.
Previous winners receiving nominations include inaugural honoree Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), and 2011 winner Pep Guardiola, honored in for his work with Barcelona and nominated this year for his work with German giants Bayern Munich.
A sign of Bayern Munich’s dominance of the German game, is that all six of the German nominee’s played for Germany for most of the year, with Toni Kroos having moved to Real Madrid over the summer.
The shortlist of 23 will be whittled to a more manageable group of three finalists on December 1. On that date FIFA and France Football will also announce the names of the three women, as well as the three coaches for women’s soccer and three coaches for men’s soccer, who have made it to the final round.
The three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award and the FIFA FIFPro World XI shortlist for the best forwards (15), midfielders (15), defenders (20) and goalkeepers (5) will be unveiled in the end of November and the beginning of December.
Here are the 23 nominees for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year in the Men’s game.
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Atlético Madrid/Chelsea), Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid/Chelsea), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Ángel Di María (Real Madrid/Manchester United), Mario Götze (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich/Real Madrid), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), James Rodríguez (Monaco/Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Yaya Touré (Manchester City).
Coach of the year shortlist
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Antonio Conte (Juventus/Italy national team), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich), Jürgen Klinsmann (USA national team), Joachim Löw (Germany national team), José Mourinho (Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), Alejandro Sabella (Argentina national team), Diego Simeone (Atlético Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Holland national team/Manchester United).