Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta named Ballon d'Or finalists

Sao Paulo, Nov 30 (IANS) Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta have been chosen as the three finalists for this year's Ballon d'Or award, football's world governing body FIFA said.

The Spain-based trio were chosen Thursday from a list of 23 candidates with the winner to be announced during a televised event in Zurich Jan 7, 2013, reports Xinhua.

Barcelona and Argentina star Messi is tipped to win the award for a fourth consecutive time having scored 82 goals in the year to date.

He needs just four more to surpass former German great Gerd Muller's 40-year record as the highest goalscorer in a calendar year.

Ronaldo has scored 60 goals across all competitions and led Real Madrid to Spain's La Liga title last season while Iniesta was named player of the tournament in Spain's Euro 2012 triumph in July.

"It shows how strong football in Spain is," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said during a press conference.

"We have seen again what the national team did at the Euros and it will be interesting to see what happens in the Confederations Cup."

Spanish football was also well represented among the candidates for coach of the year with national coach Vicente Del Bosque joining former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho on the shortlist.

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