FIFA announce Ballon D'Or shortlist

Euro 2012 champions Spain unsurprisingly head the nominees for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

And the winner is...

Seven members of the victorious squad - Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Iker Casillas, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Xavi - were included on the 23-man shortlist announced this afternoon.

Vicente del Bosque, who led his team to their third successive major title, was nominated in the coach of the year category alongside Cesare Prandelli, whose Italy side were beaten by Spain in the final.

The 2011 winner of the player of the year award, Lionel Messi, and runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo are both shortlisted once more.

Andrea Pirlo, who inspired Italy's summer success, is another leading candidate along with Atletico Madrid's prolific Colombia striker Radamel Falcao and Brazilian star Neymar.

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney is for the second year running the only Englishman to be included on the shortlist.

Rooney has scored plenty of goals in 2012 but did not pick up any trophies with his club and played a limited role at the European Championship for England, who were eliminated at the quarter-final stage.

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The Red Devils were pipped to the Barclays Premier League title by local rivals Manchester City, who have three players on the list in Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure.

Robin van Persie, who was the division's highest scorer last term with Arsenal and joined Rooney at Old Trafford over the summer, is also included.

Both United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and City boss Roberto Mancini have been nominated in the coach of the year category along with Roberto Di Matteo, whose Chelsea side won the Champions League and FA Cup.

A key man in Di Matteo's triumphant team has been recognised in now former Blues striker Didier Drogba.

Player nominees: Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Karim Benzema (France), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Sergio Busquets (Spain), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Gerard Pique (Spain), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Robin van Persie (Holland), Xavi (Spain).

Coach nominees: Vicente del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Roberto Di Matteo (Italy/Chelsea), Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United), Pep Guardiola (Spain/Barcelona former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Germany/Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Low (Germany/Germany national team), Roberto Mancini (Italy/Manchester City), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid), Cesare Prandelli (Italy/Italy national team).

The winner of all the awards will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala on January 7, 2013.



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