By Lewis IronsFollow @JfGpodcasts
A sense of Deja vu surrounds the announcement of the three men in FIFA’s shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award this year.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have changed the standards of World football forever, after a scintillating year for both players it is no surprise to see both in the limelight. And for Spaniard Andres Iniesta, it is fitting that he sees himself alongside the two world-beaters.
However, who should feel hard done by to not be included on the shortlist? Which players can genuinely say they are disappointed to have missed out on a shot at the Ballon d’Or?
The obvious candidate is Andrea Pirlo, who not only steered Juventus through an unbeaten season to the title in 2011-12, but also drove an arguably weak Italy (in comparison to previous years) to the Euro 2012 final. At the age of 33, Pirlo was a standout player in Serie A last season and Euro 2012 in the summer and it’s safe to say that the Italian can feel bitterly disappointed to not make the final cut. Once described by Marcelo Lippi as ‘a silent leader who leads with his feet’ it is unlikely Pirlo will appear bothered by FIFA turning their heads from the brilliance he displayed in 2012. Instead, the midfield magician will undoubtedly carry on putting in stellar performances and most likely, prove them wrong.
Atletico Madrid have started well this season in La Liga, and since the arrival of Radamel Falcao last year, things have only got better for the Rojiblancos. Finishing 5th in the 2011-12 campaign and claiming the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup last season have been directly fuelled by El Tigre. With 11 goals in 12 games this season, the Colombian is in fine form, and despite being nominated for the Puskas Award by FIFA, the 26 year-old will feel hard done by to have missed out on the Ballon d’Or in a year that has seen him become regarded as the best number 9 in the world.
Plying his trade between the sticks for rival Madrid side Real, Iker Casillas has had a tremendous 2012. Captaining Spain to their second consecutive European crown in the summer and prising the domestic title away from Barcelona for the first time since the 2008. Iit has been a successful year for Casillas, however, it has been a decade since a goalkeeper last appeared in the final three as Oliver Kahn was among the elite, so it was always going to be unlikely to see a keeper find his place alongside the indisputable Ronaldo and Messi.
There may be a number of players who have had an incredible year this year, however, it is safe to say that had any one of the three shortlisted players that are Andres Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo and of course Lionel Messi not been included, the footballing world would have been far more shocked.
And also, if Lionel Messi does not take the crown in a year that has seen him break goal scoring records left, right and centre we can expect to see shock of that magnitude in the days following the award.