Spain dominates World Player of the Year shortlist
BERNE (Reuters) -- World and European champions Spain dominated the shortlist for the Player of the Year award announced on Tuesday with seven players among the 23 nominees.
Argentina's Lionel Messi will attempt to win the award for the third year in a row, having surprisingly beaten his Barcelona team mates Xavi and Andres Iniesta last year.
The trio were among eight Barcelona players to make the shortlist for this year while Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid have five.
Frenchman Eric Abidal, who had surgery to remove a liver tumour earlier this year before making a triumphant return to lift the Champions League trophy with Barcelona, was also among the nominees.
Daniel Alves and Neymar were the only Brazilians named while Sergio Aguero was the only other Argentine apart from Messi.
Uruguay strikers Luis Suaraz and Diego Forlan were nominated after helping their team win the Copa America in July and Oscar Tabarez was on the 10-man shortlist for the Coach of the Year award.
Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o was the only African player to be included. The list will be whittled down to three on Dec. 5 with the winner being announced in Zurich on Jan. 9.
The award is organised jointly by FIFA and France Football magazine, the two having merged their previously separate awards last year.
Eric Abidal (Barcelona, France)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, Argentina)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid, Spain)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal)
Daniel Alves (Barcelona, Brazil)
Samuel Eto'o (Anzhi Makhachkala, Cameroon)
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona, Spain)
Diego Forlan (Inter Milan, Uruguay)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, Spain)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina)
Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Nani (Manchester United, Portugal)
Neymar (Santos, Brazil)
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid, Germany)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona, Spain)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United, England)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan, Netherlands)
Luis Suarez (Liverpool, Uruguay)
David Villa (Barcelona, Spain)
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid, Spain)
Xavi (Barcelona, Spain)