Messi heads list of FIFA Ballon d'Or finalists

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Levante UD during their Spanish first division...

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Levante UD during their Spanish first division soccer match at the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona December 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi have been named as the finalists for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or, it was announced on Monday.

Messi won the inaugural award last year after FIFA's World Player of the Year and France Football's Ballon d'Or award merged, and the Barcelona forward will once again be favored to take home the honor.

The Argentina international led Barcelona with 53 goals in all competitions as the Catalan side retained the league title and defended its Champions League crown with a win over Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in the final.

Xavi was responsible for setting up a number Messi's goals and continues to be regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world.

Ronaldo matched Messi with 53 goals in all competitions, but his Real Madrid side finished second to Barcelona in the league and was knocked out of the Champions League by Barca in the semifinals.

The 2011 FIFA Coach of the Year finalists were also announced on Monday with Barcelona's Pep Guardiola, Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson up for consideration.

Guardiola led Barca to a league and Champions League double, while Mourinho's Real Madrid topped Barca in the final of the Copa del Rey.

Ferguson helped United win its record 19th league title last season and guided the club to the Champions League final.

The winners will be announced on January 9.


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