Germany lead the way for Golden Ball

ByESPN staff ESPN logo
Monday, July 14, 2014

FIFA has announced the ten-man shortlist for its Golden Ball award, the accolade given to the player of the tournament at the World Cup.

- VOTE: Germany vs. Argentina combined XI

Germany have the most nominees, with Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller all making the list. Fellow finalists Argentina are represented by Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi.

Hummels has been part of a strong German defence, also contributing goals against both Portugal and France, while Kroos scored twice in the 7-1 demolition of Brazil.

Muller, who won the Golden Boot in South Africa in 2010, netted a hat trick against Portugal and also found the back of the net against the U.S. and Brazil. Lahm has skippered the Germans superbly, playing in both midfield and defence.

Di Maria has been Argentina's main attacking threat other than Messi, and was sorely missed in the penalty shootout win over Netherlands in the semifinals.

Messi has scored four goals in the tournament to challenge for top scorer while Mascherano has been a rock in the centre of the park.

Brazil striker Neymar, Netherlands forward Arjen Robben and Colombia's star man James Rodriguez also make the list.

Neymar is widely considered to have carried the host nation to the semifinals before their humiliating defeat to Germany, while Robben excelled throughout for the Dutch.

Rodriguez, who remains in pole position for the Golden Boot -- awarded to the top scorer at the World Cup -- with two games to go, is the only player not to have taken part in the semifinals. He scored in every game, netting six goals in total.

The shortlist is compiled by FIFA's Technical Study Group.

The shortlist for the young player of the tournament features two France players in Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, along with Memphis Depay of Netherlands.

Keylor Navas of Costa Rica, Argentina's Sergio Romero and Germany's Manuel Neuer will battle it out for the Golden Glove award for goalkeepers.

FIFA also announced that Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli has been awarded the final.

Previous Golden Ball winners:

1982: Paolo Rossi (Italy)

1986: Diego Maradona (Argentina)

1990: Salvatore Schilacci (Italy)

1994: Romario (Brazil)

1998: Ronaldo (Brazil)

2002: Oliver Kahn (Germany)

2006: Zinedine Zidane (France)

2010: Diego Forlan (Uruguay)

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