Real Madrid ace Ronaldo must beat Barcelona pair Xavi, Messi for Ballon d'Or

The Spanish Liga will again be the home of the Ballon d'Or winner this year.

Lionel Messi won the inaugural award last year after FIFA's World Player of the Year crown and France Football's Ballon d'Or gong merged, and the Argentina forward is again on the three-man shortlist along with team-mate Xavi.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo completes the line-up, replacing Barca's Andres Iniesta from last year's trio.

"This title has real meaning. It is an honour that last year we had three players (shortlisted) and now two this year," said Barca coach Pep Guardiola, who himself is nominated for the coach of the year prize.

"If they are so many (Barca) players, it is because we have won a lot. If we had no titles, this would not make sense.

"We congratulate them and now people must be left to vote in peace."

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