Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta have been announced as the final three who will compete for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or.
The trio have been confirmed at a Press conference held in Sao Paulo this afternoon as the players shortlisted for the 2012 edition of the award that Messi has won for the past three seasons.
The Argentine is again the outright favourite and will once more face competition from Real Madrid rival Ronaldo and Barca teammate Iniesta.
Iniesta makes the final cut from the list of 23 nominees for the second time in his career, having polled second in 2010 and fourth in 2011.
Xavi Hernandez, who has finished third in each of the last three editions of the award, does not make the cut and misses out along with other outsiders for the award Radamel Falcao, Iker Casillas and Andrea Pirlo.
Meanwhile, Spain Coach Vicente del Bosque, Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, who was with Barcelona last year, complete the final three nominated for the Ballon d’Or Coach of the Year award.
Votes for both awards are taken from each national team’s captain and head Coach, and from each country’s leading football journalist.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid’s Falcao has been shortlisted for a different award, as he has made the final three for the FIFA Puskas award for the best goal of the last year. The Colombian’s scissor-kick in May against America de Cali is up against strikes from Neymar and Miroslav Stoch in a public vote.
The winner of the 2012 edition of each award will be announced at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala to be held on January 7, as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus.