Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta Announced Ballon d'Or Finalists

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

The finalists for FIFA's prestigious Ballon d'Or award have been announced, given yearly to the world's best soccer player, and it's a familiar trio in the running.

From Football Espana:

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.

While Iniesta won the UEFA's Best Player Award this year, surprising many, this is clearly a contest that will be decided between Messi and Ronaldo.

On one hand, Messi has scored an astonishing 82 goals for Barcelona and Argentina this calendar year, just three short of Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals set in 1972. Barcelona won the 2011-12 Copa Del Rey, and Messi led Argentina to a successful World Cup qualifying campaign this past year.

But Ronaldo led Real Madrid to the silverware that really matters, a 2011-12 La Liga title, scoring 46 league goals in the process. He also helped Portugal advance to the semifinals of the Euro Cup, where they lost in penalties to eventual winner Spain.

When trying to decide between the two players, perhaps Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho said it best (via Nicholas Rigg of ESPN):

"I don't want to have to think about the Ballon d'Or, choosing who is the best in the world should be banned. They are two players from another planet."

Indeed they are. Unfortunately, this planet only has one Ballon d'Or to offer. Either would be a more than deserving choice.


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