The list for the nominees for the 2012 Ballon d’Or award were released by FIFA, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the obvious candidates to win this one, while Real Madrid beat Barcelona in terms of number of players on this list and no one really came close to Spain on the international front.
Goalkeepers – Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus & Italy), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid & Spain), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich & Germany).
While it’s easy to see how Buffon and Casillas made the list after very good seasons with their clubs and a rather successful Euro 2012 tournament (although not for Buffon in the final), Neuer had what was probably a sub-par season for him with Bayern Munich and seems to be just a big name to throw in there instead of actually looking for a keeper who had a good season. Still, FIFA will always stick to guys who played in an international tournament during the summer.
Defenders – Gerard Pique (Barcelona & Spain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain).
What?! Pique?! Who had probably his worst season under Pep Guardiola? Just call this the award for players who played well in Euro 2012. Where’s Chiellini of Lahm or Kompany or Hummels? Weird decisions by FIFA, which makes you think that they don’t actually watch matches but just look for big names.
Midfielders – Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid & Spain), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona & Spain), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona & Spain), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid & Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus & Italy), Yaya Toure (Manchester City & Ivory Coast), Xavi (Barcelona & Spain).
Just throw in the entire Spanish team, why don’t you? David Silva and Cesc Fabregas got left outside this, and at least in Silva’s case, I think he deserved a spot in this one. Andres Iniesta or Xavi, for all of their hype with the Spanish team in the Euro, and especially Iniesta who already won the European player of the year award (shockingly) have an outside chance of upsetting the big names.
Forwards – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City & Argentina), Mario Balotelli (Manchester City & Italy), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid & France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal), Didier Drogba (Chelsea, now Shanghai Shenhua & Ivory Coast), Falcao (Atletico Madrid & Colombia), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG & Sweden), Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina), Neymar (Santos & Brazil), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United & England), Robin van Persie (Manchester United & Netherlands).
Mario Balotelli? Because he had two good matches in the Euro? Some decision are impossible to understand. There were probably at least 4-5 different strikers around Europe who had better seasons. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for example.
By Club (In case of players now playing on a different team, credit is given to their team from the previous season) – Real Madrid with 6, Barcelona with 5, Manchester Ciy with 3, Juventus with 2; Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Santos, Manchester United and Arsenal with 1.
By Country – Spain with 7, Italy with 3, Germany, Ivory Coast and Argentina with 2; France, Portugal, Colombia, Sweden, Brazil, England and Netherlands with 1.