Ribery, Messi, Ronaldo

While the usual two suspects of pretty much every individual award are up for this one as well, Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich provides the change from the La Liga sweep, representing European champions Bayern Munich. He’ll be running against Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.

Expected? Pretty much. It’s impossible to ignore Messi, who won the award in 2011 and finished second last year behind Andres Iniesta in the voting, who led Barcelona to a fourth league title in five years and a sixth consecutive Champions League semifinal. Messi scored 60 goals in all competitions, including 46 in the La Liga and 8 in the Champions League.

Ronaldo? Pretty much the same, with slightly worse numbers, and without any titles to be proud of this time. He finished second with Real Madrid in Spain and for a third straight year lost in the Champions League semifinal. He scored 55 goals in all competitions, including 34 in the league and a career high 12 in the Champions League.

Ribery didn’t have the individual season the previous two had; no one can at this point in time. But it was impossible to put three players from Bayern Munich on the list, because titles aren’t everything, and yet they do mean something.

Ribery was one of four Bayern Munich players in the final 10 (along with Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger), appearing in it for the first time. He finished the season with 11 goals and 23 assists in all competitions, proving to be the creative side of a very efficient machine that won the Bundesliga title, DFB Pokal (German Cup), German Super Cup and the UEFA Champions League.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale, Robert Lewandowski and Robin van Persie were also taken into consideration, but finished outside the top 3 in the voting.