FIFA has officially released the 23-man shortlist for the 2013 Ballon d'Or award. There's a heavy influence from Spain — namely Barcelona and Real Madrid and anybody associated with the Spanish national team. There's also plenty of players who play their club ball in Germany — especially the Bayern Munich contingent — who have made the list thanks to the success that the Bundesliga had over the past 12 months.
Luckily for us, FIFA has left a small corner of the nominations for Juventus. How nice of them.
Juve midfielder, resident winery owner and bearded wonder Andrea Pirlo is one of the players placed on the list for one of the biggest individual awards there is in the world today. And on top of Pirlo being shortlisted, Antonio Conte and his pockets full of grinta have been recognized as one of the 10 nominees for the Coach of the Year award.
I guess winning a pair of Scudetti will get a bit of attention thrown your direction, eh?
The 23 players eligible to win the Ballon d'Or are as follows:
Gareth Bale (Wales), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribéry (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Yaya Touré (Côte d'Ivoire), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
Hey, look! Neuer is the token goalkeeper this year! That's cool. This would also be a pretty good team on FIFA14. Maybe we should try and make it happen one of these days. I bet the people you'd be playing online wouldn't want to trash talk or anything like that when you're up 6-0 after the first 15 minutes and thinking of playing maybe Leo Messi as a wingback.
Here are the 10 coaches who are up for the coaching award:
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain FC/Real Madrid CF), Rafael Benítez (Spain/Chelsea FC/SSC Napoli), Antonio Conte (Italy/Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain/Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Scotland/Manchester United FC former coach), Jupp Heynckes (Germany/FC Bayern München former coach), Jürgen Klopp (Germany/Borussia Dortmund), José Mourinho (Portugal/Real Madrid CF/Chelsea FC), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil/Brazil national team), Arsène Wenger (France/Arsenal FC).
One heck of a group for Conte to be included in. And while I'd love Conte to win it, a certain Sir Alex won the Premier League and just so happened to retire, so who knows if FIFA might throw one last parting gift his direction. Either way, maybe Pirlo will give Messi some tips on how to grow a fancy beard. That is if Messi can grow a beard, of course.
And we'll also see if somebody other than a Spain-based player or manager can win their respective awards.