On Thursday FIFA announced the three finalists for the 2012 Ballon d'Or, the award given each year to the world's best player. Messi leads the list as expected, and he is joined by Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi, 25, has won the award three straight years, dating back to the time before the Ballon d'Or merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year. He is the favorite again this year, having scored 82 goals in 2012—three fewer than Gerd Müller's all-time record of 85 in 1972.
Ronaldo, 27, scored 60 goals in all competitions last season as Real Madrid advanced to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. He has scored 19 goals in all competitions so far this season.
Iniesta, 28, excelled for both Barcelona and Spain in 2012. As a member of Spain's Euro 2012-winning team, he was named the best player of the tournament by UEFA. He also won UEFA's Best Player in Europe award this season.
The Ballon d'Or will be presented Jan. 7, 2013, at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich.
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