La Liga dominates Ballon d'Or shortlist
This year's list of nominees for the FIFA Ballon d'Or has been released, with 12 of the 23 players plying their trade in La Liga.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi, 25, has been awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or for two successive years, after lifting the European Footballer of the Year in 2009 prior to it merging with the World Player of the Year in 2010.
Messi and Real Madrid's Ronaldo have both been prolific goalscorers for their respective clubs over the last 12 months, and the latter's role in helping his side wrestle the Liga title from their rivals could tip this year's award in his favour.
But while Messi and Ronaldo are considered strong favourites for the prize, Spain and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta is being tipped to rival his counterparts after helping his nation claim glory at Euro 2012 when he was named as the tournament's best player.
Wayne Rooney is the one Englishman on the list, after he scored 27 Premier League goals for Manchester United last season, while he is joined by Premier League counterparts Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and team-mate Robin van Persie.
The Ballon d'Or ceremony will take place in Zurich on January 7, 2013, when the player who receives the most votes from coaches and captains of international teams, and journalists, will be announced.
FIFA Ballon d'Or nominees
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Didier Drogba (Chelsea, now Shanghai Shenhua)
Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan, now Paris-SG)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Robin van Persie (Arsenal, now Manchester United)
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
There were also ten nominees announced for the FIFA Coach of the Year award.
Vicente Del Bosque (Spain)
Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea)
Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
Pep Guardiola (Barcelona, now unemployed)
Jupp Heynckes (Bayern Munich)
Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund)
Joachim Low (Germany)
Roberto Mancini (Manchester City)
Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid)
Cesare Prandelli (Italy)