Defending

Defending champions Lionel Messi is the favourite, once again, to take the award. Picture - Reuters.

There were no surprises when the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d'Or was announced Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi in line to win the prestigious award.

Last year's winner Messi is the favourite once again, but Catalan teammate Xavi and Real Madrid star Ronaldo are more than capable of claiming the award.

Both Messi and Ronaldo scored 53 goals in all competitions last season, while Xavi was the driving force behind the Argetine's goals.

Messi and Xavi helped Barcelona take the Primera Division title as well as the Champions League, while Real Madrid, driven by Ronaldo's goals, drove Barca close in all competitions, while defeating the Catalans in the final of the Copa Del Rey.

Both Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho have been nominated for the 2011 FIFA Coach of the Year award while Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is also in the shortlist.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Zurich on January 9, 2012.