The polls have been counted, and the finalists are official: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery have been announced as the three 2013 Ballon d'Or finalists, FIFA revealed.
The trio have surprised nobody in making the final cut, the achievement symbolising just how individually devastating they've been over the course of the calendar year.
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid||Portugal||28|
|Franck Ribery||Bayern Munich||France||30|
Meanwhile, the FIFA Coach of the Year Award has also been whittled down to three candidates, with Jurgen Klopp, Jupp Heynckes and Sir Alex Ferguson named as the finalists.
Eurosport was on hand with the announcement:
BREAKING: Juergen Klopp, Jupp Heynckes and Sir Alex Ferguson named on shortlist for FIFA's Coach of the Year award.— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) December 9, 2013
|Coach||Country||Most Recent Club Managed||Age|
|Jupp Heynckes||Germany||Bayern Munich||68|
|Sir Alex Ferguson||Scotland||Manchester United||71|
|Jurgen Klopp||Germany||Borussia Dortmund||46|
FIFA also announced its three contenders for the Puskas Award, which is handed to the scorer of the year's best goal. Benfica's Nemanja Matic, Brazil's Neymar and Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic all made the final cut.
|Player||Goal Scored For||Goal Scored Against||Club||Age|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Sweden||England||Paris Saint-Germain||32|
Take your pick of the bunch after watching the videos (here, here and here). Matic's effort displays phenomenal team synchronisation, while Neymar and Ibrahimovic produce brief glimpses of sheer magic for their entries.
With just over a month left until the Ballon d'Or Award is officially announced, anticipation will now reach fever pitch as the race to be named 2013's finest comes to its climax.
Messi is seeking to win the title for the fifth time in succession, further breaking his own record as the most gilded player ever to have claimed the accolade.
However, the Argentinian has seen his 2013 impacted by injury. His tally of 42 goals and 14 assists, however odd it may seem, is low by his usual standards.
That being said, the forward did still have a big hand in leading Barcelona back to the La Liga title in a 2012/13 campaign that saw the Catalans score a massive 115 goals.
Ronaldo's year wasn't quite as fruitful in terms of silverware, but then the Ballon d'Or is a celebration of individual achievement, and there's an argument that no one player is in better form right now.
This season has already seen the Portuguese powerhouse break Messi's record for Champions League goals scored in a calendar year, his 2013 total of 14 being one better than Messi's 13 scored last year.
The Real Madrid superstar currently sits on an incredible surplus of 70 goals for both club and country this year, while at international level he led Portugal to the World Cup with a virtuoso display against Sweden.
It was Ronaldo's ability to single-handedly lead his national team to the World Cup finals, scoring all four goals in the two-legged playoff victory, which tipped the betting odds in his favour.
However, Ribery is the finalist whose club achievements speak more broadly than any other, his Bayern Munich team winning a domestic and European treble earlier this year.
One might argue that individual brilliance is affected by the fact that the Frenchman is currently surrounded by arguably the world's finest squad. But the fact Ribery managed to stand out above all others in that outstanding Bayern team testifies to his class.
Twenty-two assists in 2013 is a statistic only helped further by the fact that Die Roten's winger also pitched in with 23 goals of his own in 2013, meaning Ribery has had a direct influence in 45 goals this calendar year.
Jan Aage Fjortoft reports Bayern president Uli Hoeness as saying there's a conspiracy if Ribery doesn't win this year's award:
Bayern-president, Uli Hoeness, to Sky-Germany: - If Ribery doesn't win the Ballon d'Or it is an embarrasing conspiracy— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) December 8, 2013
Without delving too far into the differences between defences in Germany and Spain, all three attackers have demonstrated their prowess on European and international stages, so the award will really come down to whether the onus is placed on individual goal tallies or silverware.
Ronaldo is hoping to cut down the lead owned by Argentinian counterpart Messi by winning his second title, while Ribery will be hoping to claim his first Ballon d'Or.
Ferguson is the only manager among this year's three coaching candidates to have made the shortlist in the past, although none of the managers have won the honour in its three-year history.
Goals and assists tallies via ESPN FC.