Earlier today, FIFA announced their 10-man shortlist for the 2014 Golden Ball award. They also released the shortlists for their other awards, including the one that matters most to any Bayern Munich fan, the Golden Glove.
Officially, the Golden Ball award is meant to commemorate the best player in the tournament. By it's very definition it's an arbitrary award which means like most of them in soccer, it will go to whoever scored a bunch of goals and people talked about a bunch independent of actual ability or performance in the tournament. Which is kind of a shame because this year's shortlist shows an expansion of thinking and includes some exciting names that definitely deserve a big shot at earning the award (although snubbing Sami Khedira personally pisses me off to no end).
With Germany in the final, and six Bayern Munich players featuring for the side, there's no doubt several of them would be nominated. As luck would have it we had three Germans from Bayern Munich nominated including Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, and Thomas Müller who joined the Netherlands' Arjen Robben as the four Bayern Munich representatives on the shortlist. Rounding out the nominees from the other nations includes Angel di Maria, Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Mats Hummels, Neymar, and James Rodriguez.
Of those Bayern Munich players, Toni Kroos has had a brilliant tournament as the creative focal point of Germany's attack and is probably the most deserving while Thomas Müller has racked up another five World Cup goals and three assists giving him a good shot at winning his second Golden Boot award in as many World Cups. Philipp Lahm is a darkhorse choice but his captaincy and leadership of Germany (as well as his performances in holding midfield and at rightback) which helped them earn their way out of the toughest group in the tournament. Despite those accolades and Germany's presence in the World Cup final, it's also hard to look past Arjen Robben who has almost single handedly propelled the Netherlands to the third place game. The only issue with his selection would be that the Netherlands have been quite possibly the dullest team in the knockout stages, taking two straight games to penalty kicks because of their inability to score.
Meanwhile on the other stage, Manuel Neuer is making his case as to why he should be given the Golden Glove over Bayern Munich transfer target Keylor Navas and Argentina's Sergio Romero. Short of the main reason being because Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world (and people will fight you if you say otherwise!), Neuer has done everything Romero and Navas have done between the sticks including posting three extremely impressive performances during the knockout rounds. Coupling that with his sweeping ability and importance to Germany's possession game, he has been the foundation for their defensive success in the tournament.
It should be a fun presentation ceremony on Sunday. Here's hoping Bayern Munich representatives take home both awards (and the Golden Boot!)(and the actual World Cup!).