FIFA has followed up last week’s announcement for the Women’s Ballon d’Or Nominees by today naming 23 players for the Men’s Player of the Year for 2013.
Will this be the year that someone knocks Lionel Messi from his perch as the best player in the world? Can any of the other 22 outstanding players nominated by FIFA beat the brilliant Argentine? Let’s take a look at the contenders.
Since the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year Award were merged in 2010, Barcelona’s Messi has been the only winner of the Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo has finished second the past two years, and everyone who watched the Awards show last season could see from the Real Madrid mans reaction, that he is getting a bit fed up of being in Messi’s shadow.
Will this be the year that Ronaldo steps out into the light? It may be a bit too soon for that question, FIFA will announce three finalists for the award in early December. Messi’s Barca teammates, Iniesta and Xavi, are both nominated again this year. Xavi has twice finished third and Iniesta got the bronze last year.
It would seem to be a given that both Messi and Ronaldo will be in that big three in December, leaving 21 supremely talented players to battle for that third position on the podium.
Will that player come from Bayern Munich’s six nominee’s? The German juggernaut won everything in sight last year, taking home the Bundesliga title and the UEFA Champions league, and humiliating Barcelona along the way. 7-0 over two legs in the semifinals of the Champions League was almost hard to believe, but that Bayern performance along with Borussia Dortmund’s 4-3 defeat of Real Madrid may have signalled a move away from Spanish dominance of world soccer.
Will the Ballon d’Or reflect this? If so Franck Ribery, the orchestrator of the Bayern attack may join round out the final three. The Frenchman has already been awarded the UEFA Player of the Year for Europe.
Ribery running mate Arjen Robben was outstanding in Bayern’s Champions League title surge, and that may have stuck with the voters.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently told Telefoot that he believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the game’s best player. “Right now, I’d say he is,” the Arsenal boss opined. “At 32,” reasoned Wenger, “you know how to get the best from your talent.” Going against Ibra is the strength of the league he plays in, Ligue 1, for Paris Saint-Germain. Monaco, another free spending Ligue 1 club also has a nominee in Colombian star Falcao.
Five players are nominated from the English Premier League, although none are English. Former EPL standout Gareth Bale is nominated for his breakout season at Tottenham. That stellar season earned the Welshman a $138 million transfer to Real Madrid, where he has started slowly.
The five EPL nominees are Robin van Persie and Ya Ya Toure, from Manchester United and City respectively. The always controversial Uruguayan Luis Suarez is playing as well as anyone at the moment for Liverpool, and former Real Madrid man Mesut Ozil has made a huge impact at Arsenal. Belgian star Eden Hazard, who plays at Chelsea is a bit of a surprise as the fifth EPL nominee.
Barcelona’s fourth contender Neymar, is something of a wild card in all of this. The hugely talented young Brazilian made his big move to Barca this summer, meaning most of his club play in 2013 was with Santos, of the Brazilian League. While improved in recent years, the Brazilian League is not rated on par with the top European leagues, making Neymar’s prospects something of a referendum on the Confederations Cup.
Neymar led Brazil to victory in the Cup, winning the Golden Ball as Player of the Tournament, while scoring in every match, including Brazil’s 3-0 demolition of Spain in the final. If Neymar makes the final three, it can be seen as a sign that the Confederations Cup has arrived.
FIFA also announced the finalists for World Coach of the Year for 2013. Retired Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes would seem to be the favorite to wrest the crown from Spain national team coach Vicente Del Bosque, although retired Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson may be a surprise choice.
The following 23 men (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013:
Gareth Bale (Wales), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribéry (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
The following ten coaches (in alphabetical order, first nationality and then team) are in contention for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football 2013:
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain FC/Real Madrid CF), Rafael Benítez (Spain/Chelsea FC/SSC Napoli), Antonio Conte (Italy/Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Germany/FC Bayern München former coach), Jürgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), José Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid CF/Chelsea FC), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil/Brazil national team), Arsène Wenger (France/Arsenal FC).