In what has been a remarkable year for club and international football, the awarding of the most prestigious individual prize in the world's game looks likely to be as intriguing as it has been for a number of years.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the current holder of the prize, last year taking it of Lionel Messi to stop his rival wining it for a fifth straight year. The Real Madrid and Barcelona superstars are, of course, two of the favourites, but things are never quite so straightforward in a World Cup year.
Brazil 2014 saw the culmination of a major overhaul in German football over a decade ago, with a generation of exceptionally talented youngsters finally realising their potential and winning the biggest prize in world football.
Messi and Argentina were the defeated opponents at the Maracana in July in a match that saw die Mannschaft provide a number of potential winners of the prize. The shortlist reflects this with six of the 23 names coming from the World champions.
Bayern Munich has also been impressive over the past two years, but the arrival of Pep Guardiola at the Allianz Arena could not spur them to do something nobody has done yet: retain the Champions League trophy in its modern guise. Europe's premier club competition is also a big factor in who wins.
- Top 5: 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or contenders
- Cristiano Ronaldo stars in 'out of this world' Nike advert
- Ronaldo or Messi 'shouldn't win' the Ballon d'Or
That is why Cristiano Ronaldo is still favourite, despite Real Madrid failing to win La Liga and Portugal having an abysmal World Cup campaign. The Portuguese captain smashed the record for goals scored in a single competition by netting 17 times on the way to los Blancos winning la Decima.
However, their defeated opponents in that match, and cit rivals, will also have a say in who is getting the votes. Atletico Madrid pulled off possibly the most remarkable league title win in modern times, holding off the financial behemoths of their local rivals and Barcelona to top La Liga.
Diego Simeone must be nailed on to win the manager's award after doing that, but his two former players, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, now both at Chelsea, will be doing well to take the top prize.
Premier League absences
Manchester City's Yaya Toure was the only representative to have played last year in the Premier League and it looks as though English clubs' failure to make a bigger mark on the Champions League has ruled most of them out - England were never going to win the World Cup!
All that is left for you to do now is click the 'Begin Slideshow' button below and find out the 23 names that have ben chosen for the shortlist of the 2014 FIFA Ballon d'Or, with the three favourites being announced last.
We want to know your views on the shortlist - is there anyone missing? who will finally win? Leave a comment below to let us know…News Now - Sport News