The World Cup has ended, and three members of the champions have made the short list for UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award.
Philipp Lahm, Thomas Mueller and Manuel Neuer — all members of Bayern Munich — made the cut. Lahm is the only member of the trio to be making the short list for the first time, as Mueller made it last season and Neuer in 2011.
Also on the list are Diego Costa (Spain, Atletico/Chelsea), Angel Di Maria (Argentina, Real Madrid), James Rodriguez (Colombia, Monaco), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Liverpool/Barcelona).
Messi is the only reigning winner on the list, as Andres Iniesta and Franck Ribery were left off. Ronaldo won the award’s de facto predecessor, the Ballon d’Or, in 2010.
Only six players return to the list from the previous edition, as Ribery, Robert Lewandowski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Gareth Bale, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robin van Persie are of the list.
Of the omissions, Zlatan is the most surprising. Though Sweden missed the World Cup, the striker scored 10 times in 7 UEFA Champions League appearances to go with 26 goals in 33 Ligue 1 appearances. Throw in Cup matches, and Ibrahimovic scored 41 goals in 45 matches this season.
Yet he finished No. 13, behind the ten and both Sergio Ramos and Thibaut Courtois.
The only surprising name on the list if Scotland’s Kris Commons, who plays for Celtic FC. He scored 27 times in the Scottish Premier League, adding two more in Europe.