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
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
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 being sought by Europe's top clubs.