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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Who Will Win the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or?

On January 9, 2012 inside the Zurich Kongresshaus in Switzerland, lights will dim and the audience, made of some of the best players to have graced the game of football, will be treated to a video featuring the magic moments of some three soccer players who would have been picked as the crème of crop and shortlisted as the top three exceptional players from who only one will be crowned as the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner.

In all probability, iconic FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter will open an envelope and read out the name of one among the three who, donned in a designer suit, will imperturbably stride up the dais amid deafening ovation from his peers and admiration from millions of football fanatics from across the globe to collect the most coveted individual award the beautiful game has to offer.

The likelihood of that player being from Africa, England or Netherlands, or otherwise being a goalkeeper is one out of 23 each, while the probability of me continuing to use arithmetical analysis to represent this is Zero.   

So away with all the numbers, and back to the basics. FIFA have announced a shortlist of 23 players who will compete for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or award.

Spain, the 2010 Fifa World Cup and European Cup champions dominate the list with a total of seven candidates including Real Madrid duo Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso and Barcelona’s quintet of Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, David Villa and Xavi.

Germany has three candidates led by Bayern Munich duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller with Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil completing the list. Eric Abidal, Karim Benzema (France), Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani (Portugal), Dani Alves, Neymar (Brazil), and Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez (Uruguay) will aim to win the award while the lone rangers are Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) Wayne Rooney (England) and Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands).

In terms of club representation, Champions League holders Barcelona lead the pack with eight, La Liga rivals Real Madrid has five, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Manchester United have two. Other clubs represented include Liverpool, Santos, Anzi Makhachkala and Manchester City.

The names of the top three will be revealed on December 5 2011 by FIFA and France Football.

Spain national team coach Vicente Del Bosque and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola will be favourites for the Fifa World Coach of the Year award which also has Jurgen Klopp who led Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title, Andre Villas Boas who helped Porto win a treble before moving to his current club Chelsea, Sir Alex Fergusson (Manchester United), Rudi Garcia (Lille), Joachim Low (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay), and Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).

Votes come from coaches and captains of international teams as well as selected journalists, who used to nominate France Football's Ballon d’Or winner before the awards were merged. My heart tells me Luis Suarez will win it, my head says Lionel Messi will defend it.

Meanwhile 25-year-old Brazilian Marta Vieira da Silva will collect an unprecedented sixth straight FIFA Women's Player of the Year award provided she fends off competition from Japan's Homare Sawa. Sawa top scored for Japan as they won the 2011 Women's World Cup and was also named the player of the tournament. 

The two will be joined by Sawa's countrymate Aya Miyama as well as US custodian Hope Solo and forwards Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. Other nominees for the women's award include Sonia Bompastor, Louisa Necib (France), Kerstin Garefrekes (Germany) and Lotta Schelin (Sweden).

And That's thesteifmastertake!!