Barcelona’s Lionel Messi will try to win the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best soccer player for the fourth year in a row after being named a finalist along with teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi joins Ronaldo, the 2008 winner, and Spain’s Iniesta in the running for the prize, which will be announced Jan. 7 in Zurich. Brazil’s Marta, a five-time winner, and Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach of the U.S. are the female finalists.
Vicente del Bosque, who led world champion Spain to the 2012 European title, Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho are the nominees for coach of the year for men’s teams. France’s Bruno Bini, Norio Sasaki of Japan and Pia Sundhage, the Swede who led the U.S. to the Olympic title, are the women’s nominees.
Messi became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer in 2012 by netting his 233rd goal in March and broke the mark for Champions League goals in a single season with 14. He’s scored 82 goals so far this year, closing in on Gerd Muller’s record of 85.
Iniesta was named best player in the European Championships that took place this year in Poland and Ukraine as Spain defended its title. Ronaldo’s 46 goals pushed Real Madrid to the Spanish title, and the player took Portugal to the semifinals of the Euros.
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