Spain’s World Cup winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta were joined by holder Lionel Messi on an all--Barcelona shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or announced on Monday.
Iniesta scored the winning goal in Spain’s World Cup final victory over the Netherlands in Johannesburg in July and, along with his midfield partner Xavi and Argentina forward Messi, helped Barcelona to win the Spanish league title.
Messi had a disappointing World Cup by his own high standards, failing to score in the tournament as Argentina, coached by Diego Maradona, suffered a 4-0 defeat by Germany in the quarter-finals.
“It’s an honor to be one of the three finalists for the Ballon d’Or and even more so to be there with Xavi and Leo,” Iniesta wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s a marvelous prize for the cantera [Barca youth school].”
Vicente del Bosque of Spain, the man who masterminded Spain’s first World Cup success, made the shortlist for the Coach of the Year award along with Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan.
“Since 2008, Spanish football is really ahead of the rest. They are also dominating so much at club level,” FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told a media conference.
“They are playing so well in their club. They are crushing world football at the moment. Barcelona’s match against Madrid last week was a brilliant display of football,” he said.
It was the third time that three players from the same club had been named on the Ballon d’Or shortlist. In 1988 and 1989, AC Milan monopolized the first three spots on the list, with Dutch striker Marco Van Basten winning both times.
This year’s winners will be announced on Jan. 10 in Zurich. Messi won both awards last year.