Barcelona’s Ballon d’Or Nominees

David Ramos

The 23 man strong shortlist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or has been announced and it is no surprise to see a large number of Barça players featured.

Five Barcelona players help to make up the list that features twelve players from La Liga, including six Real Madrid players and one from Atlético Madrid, but there can of course only be one winner and the purpose of this article is to try and determine who that winner will be.

There is a Sky Sports program called Revista De La Liga that broadcasts every Tuesday night. Last night the pundits (host and ex-player Scott Minto, Spanish journalist Guillem Balague, ex-player Terry Gibson and Scottish journalist Graham Hunter) were discussing the shortlist and Hunter mentioned the criteria that the judges are presented with and that he believed this criteria favours Messi over Ronaldo. Here is the link to the episode but unfortunately you have to be a UK Sky subscriber to view it.

Intrigued, I then asked Hunter (@BumperGraham) via Twitter if this criteria was public and he said no but over time he will tweet it. I, for one, can’t wait until the criteria is released and to see if it does in fact favour Messi over any other candidate.

But for now, it is a level playing field and let’s see each player’s credentials.

Sergio Busquets

Sergio-busquets-barcelona-008_medium

Via The Guardian

The 24 year old has been at the heart of the Barcelona and Spanish national team midfield for years now. Playing the crucial Pivot role he is in charge of converting defence to attack as quickly as possible and is probably more impressive in the red and blue of Barça where he plays this role alone, compared to his pairing with Xabi Alonso for Spain. The midfielder seems to go from strength to strength and has earned the respect of his team mates that he deserves but doesn't always receive from the media and the fans.

Andrés Iniesta

Iniesta_2264679b_medium

Via The Telegraph

World Cup winner, double European Championships winner, winner of the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, second place in the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or and part of the UEFA Team of the Year for the past three years. Andrés Iniesta is a phenomenon and if he were to win this year's award it would be fully deserved. The Barcelona number eight has been at the top of the game for a long time now and makes up a third of the Barça "Holy Trinity". Technique, passing precision, raw talent and finesse all attributes Iniesta holds and has been the scorer of some of Barcelona's and Spain's most important goals in their history. Iniesta would be my choice this year as I feel the award should go to a Spanish player this year.

Lionel Messi

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Via The Guardian

How do you describe Lionel Messi? Pep Guardiola said "don't try to describe him just watch him." But I will try. Winner of the award for the last three years, Messi is on the verge of history in becoming the first player to win four consecutive Ballon d'ors. A record he can add to the growing collection he has already broken. This year alone he has become the all-time top scorer for Barcelona in official games, scored the most UEFA Champions League goals in a single season and hit 72 goals in all competitions. The greatest in the world, if not ever, is surely the favourite to win the accolade even if Barcelona didn't win either La Liga or the Champions League last season.

Gerard Piqué

Gerard-pique-spain-euro-2012-celebrations_2788719_medium

Via uefa.com

Piqué's form has been split in two. With Spain, magnificent. With Barcelona, not so much. Affected by off the pitch distractions. Piqué struggled to find the technique that made him one of the best of the world and with the rise of Javier Mascherano as a defender, Piqué found his first team opportunities more and more limited. But once Euro 2012 rolled around, Piqué's form partnered with Sergio Ramos was back to its best, conceding only one goal in the whole of the final tournament. It seems unlikely that Piqué will collect the award but it was good to see him back to his best.

Xavi Hernandez

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Via The Guardian

Like Iniesta, Xavi is a midfield maestro. Pinpoint passing, an eye to goal and the calm and experienced of a forty year old. Xavi has won the most trophies as a Barcelona player, currently twenty, and also holds the record for representing the Blaugrana in league matches. The 2011-12 season was also Xavi's highest scoring season and he provided two assists in the 4-0 victory of Italy in the Euro 2012 final. There is no doubt Xavi is a superb player who would be worthy of the award but I think he has been outshone this year by his Barcelona teammate Iniesta.

So those are the candidates. Personally I would like to see the order as:

1st.) Iniesta

2nd.) Messi

3rd.) Ronaldo

But I am predicting Messi to scoop his fourth and make history:

1st.) Messi

2nd.) Ronaldo

3rd.) Iniesta

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