Seven Spaniards in Ballon d’Or contention

Seven Spanish players have been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012, three from Real Madrid and four from Barcelona.

The award, designed to honour the world's best player, is currently held by Barca's Lionel Messi, who has won the last three editions.

The Argentine is favourite to prevail again when the winner is announced in Zurich next January but should face some stiff competition from old enemy Cristiano Ronaldo. Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas is also thought to be in with a chance.

Real's Casillas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos, and Barca's Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Xabi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, are the Spanish contenders.

With Karim Benzema and Mesut Ozil also featuring, Los Blancos are the club with the most representatives on the 23 man list published by France Football magazine today – six in total.

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli is a surprise inclusion, and Atletico Madrid's on form striker Falcao is also in the running.

Full list of nominees:

Sergio Aguero (ARG / Manchester City)

Mario Balotelli (ITA / Manchester City)

Karim Benzema (FRA / Real Madrid)

Gianluigi Buffon (ITA / Juventus)

Sergio Busquets (ESP /Barcelona)

Iker Casillas (ESP / Real Madrid)

Didier Drogba (CIV / Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua)

Radamel Falcao (COL / Atletico Madrid)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (SWE / AC Milan, Paris-SG)

Andres Iniesta (ESP / FC Barcelona)

Lionel Messi (ARG / FC Barcelona)

Manuel Neuer (GER / Bayern Munich)

Neymar (BRA / Santos)

Mesut Özil (GER / Real Madrid)

Gerard Piqué (ESP /Barcelona)

Andrea Pirlo (ITA / Juventus)

Sergio Ramos (ESP / Real Madrid)

Cristiano Ronaldo (POR / Real Madrid)

Wayne Rooney (ENG / Manchester United)

Yaya Toure (CIV / Manchester City)

Robin Van Persie (HOL / Arsenal, Manchester United)

Xabi Alonso (ESP / Real Madrid)

Xavi Hernandez (ESP /Barcelona)

Tags Ballon d'Or Balotelli Casillas Messi Ramos Ronaldo Xabi Xabi Alonso