Ballon d'Or 2014: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer make up three-man shortlist for award

Reigning Ballon d'Or holder Ronaldo remains the favourite to win the trophy for a third time

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The Independent Football

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been joined by Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on the three-man shortlist for this year's Ballon d'Or award.

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The Real Madrid forward is the overwhelming favourite to retain the award that he claimed last year, following four year's of domination by his arch-rival Messi.

The pair have often been compared when trying to decide the current greatest player in world football, and both can have realistic claims to be the best the world has ever seen on the football pitch given the number of records they now hold.

However, they are joined by goalkeeper Neuer, who has enjoyed an incredible year that saw Bayern sweep the German Bundesliga and German Cup as well as reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Those accolades were well and truly trumped in the summer though, as Neuer was part of the Germany team that went on to lift the World Cup for the first time since 1990, beating Argentina in the final of a thrilling tournament in Brazil.

Ronaldo has already won the award twice before, having secured the 2008 trophy after helping Manchester United to clinch the Champions League.

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Ronaldo, Messi and Neuer

Germany coach Joachim Loew, Real Madrid's Carlo Ancelotti and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone have been nominated for the Coach of the Year award.

Ronaldo, Messi and Neuer were also included among a list of contenders for places in the FIFPro World XI along with Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney and Real's Welsh star Gareth Bale.

The controversy surrounding former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez at the World Cup - he was banned by world governing body FIFA after biting Giorgio Cheillini during Uruguay's clash with Italy - did not prevent him being nominated.

A number of other Barclays Premier League players are also in contention with Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Angel di Maria, Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard, Mesut Ozil, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa also named.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 12.

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