Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi vs. Franck Ribery for 2013 Ballon d'Or
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is looking to win the award for the second time in his career. The forward is enjoying the most productive year at Real Madrid while he also fired Portugal to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a hat-trick during their playoff match with Sweden.
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery shortlisted for 2013 Ballon d'Or
- The winner will be announced in Zurich on January 13
- Alex Ferguson, Jupp Heynckes and Jurgen Klopp up for the coaching accolade
- Women's winner to come from shortlist of Marta, Abby Wambach and Nadine Angerer
(CNN) -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery will battle it out for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, football's most prestigious individual accolade.
Global governing body FIFA whittled down the initial 23-man list to a final shortlist of three players, with the winner set to be announced during the annual Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich on January 13.
Barcelona and Argentina No. 10 Messi is hoping to be crowned the world's leading player for a record fifth year in a row, but he faces stiff competition from Real Madrid's Ronaldo.
Portugal captain Ronaldo is the favorite to clinch the award for the second time in his career, having previously won it as a Manchester United player in 2008, after a year which has seen him outscore Messi while also firing his country to next year's World Cup in Brazil.
France's Ribery was a key player in the Bayern Munich team which won a European Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble in 2013.
The World Cup brings 32 nations together to compete in the "beautiful game," and each country's fans are just as boisterous as the last. Click through to see fans from all of the 32 countries that will be competing in this year's soccer tournament in Brazil. Above, an Algeria supporter.
Photos: World Cup: 32 nations and their fans
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
CNN rating: Contender
Can anyone dethrone Messi? The Argentine has lifted the prize in each of the last four years and once again starred for Barcelona during the 2012-13 season as they romped to the Spanish title, scoring 46 goals during a victorious La Liga campaign.
2013 Ballon d'Or nominees
FIFA also announced the three men in the running for the coach of the year accolade.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is nominated for guiding the Old Trafford club to a record 20th English championship.
The Scot called time on his glittering 26-year reign at United in May.
Jupp Heynckes also stepped aside at the end of last season after leading Bayern to an historic treble.
The German veteran is nominated alongside Jurgen Klopp, whose Borussia Dortmund team lost to Heynckes' Bayern in the Champions League final but won many admirers with their vibrant, attacking football.
The world's leading female player will also be crowned. Brazilian star Marta is once again nominated for the award having won it five years in a row between 2006 and 2010.
Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer saved two penalties in a 1-0 win over Norway in the final of Euro 2013, with American Abby Wambach completing the shortlist after becoming the leading goalscorer in international football history.
Read: 2014 World Cup groups drawn
Read: Wambach breaks goalscoring record
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.