Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer celebrates after Barcelona's Gerard Pique scored an own goal
during their Champions League semi-final second leg soccer match at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona May 1, 2013.) (Photo : REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Manuel Neuer is the only netminder to make the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or and he will look to make history by becoming just the second keeper to win the award.
In 1963, Soviet Union keeper Lev Yashin became the first — and currently the only — goalie to win the coveted award. Last year, many made the case that Spain's Iker Casillas should win the award after winning the Euro Cup for Spain (and allowing only one goal in the process) and winning the Spanish League with Real Madrid. Casillas also took home the Spanish Super Cup later in the year and helped Spain pull off a number of major World Cup qualifier matches at the end of the year. Unfortunately, he did not get the award and only finished in sixth place behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Radamel Falcao. Neuer was nominated last year and finished 19th.
This would indicate that the odds are stacked in Neuer's favor. However, he must not be overlooked. He led Bayern Munich to three trophies and made 66 saves in 31 matches last year in the Bundesliga. He has started the 2013-14 season with six clean sheets in 12 matches and has been tremendous for his club.
Can he win?
Neuer's biggest opposition is his own teammates. There are six Munich players nominated for the award and each has had a crucial part to play in the team's success. This could split voters easily and wind up hurting every single nominee from the Bavarian club.
Prediction: Neuer finishes in the top 15.