Sat, Dec 01, 2012 - Page 18 News List

‘Ballon d’Or’ finalists announced

ON THE BRINK:Barca’s Lionel Messi, looking for his fourth award, has scored 82 goals this calendar year, putting him only three shy of Gerd Mueller’s record

AP, SAO PAULO, Brazil

“It is difficult,” Blatter said. “All the focus is on the big European leagues and this is the market today in football. It is the benchmark of club football.”

Neymar won the Goal of the Year award last year and is looking to retain the prize courtesy of his goal for Santos against Internacional on March 7, when he scored following a mazy dribble from midfield.

Falcao is in the running for his overhead-kick on May 19 in Atletico Madrid’s game against America de Cali, while Stoch is on the list for his superb hook shot from the edge of the box for Fenerbahce on March 3.

Morgan and Wambach are looking to win the women’s award for the first time after leading the US to their third straight Olympic gold medal in London. Wambach made the shortlist last year, finishing third in the voting. The US team also is represented by Swedish coach Sundhage, who led the team to the gold at the Games.

“Women’s football was at its best this year,” Blatter said, noting the record crowds attending the matches at the London Games.

Marta is looking for an unprecedented sixth award.

“It’s a great honor to be in the running again,” Marta said. “It’s going to be a very tight dispute and I’m sure the winner will be very deserving.”

Voting is by national team coaches and captains, and journalists invited by co-organizer France Football magazine.

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