Radamel Falcao finished up in fifth, behind another Barcelona stalwart, Xavi, while Iker Casillas came in at sixth, and Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic made up a star-studded final top 10 for the calendar year of 2012.
After the awards ceremony, FIFA released an intriguing list of the full votes for the award, which is decided based on decisions made by international coaches, captains and a selection of media representatives from each member nation.
The voting list reveals some decisions that would raise few eyebrows, but other ones that can be considered as particularly surprising.
|FIFA BALLON D'OR 2012 RESULTS
|PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL FINAL VOTE
|1. LIONEL MESSI
2. CRISTIANO RONALDO
3. ANDRES INIESTA
5. RADAMEL FALCAO
6. IKER CASILLAS
7. ANDREA PIRLO
8. DIDIER DROGBA
9. ROBIN VAN PERSIE
10. ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC
In England’s votes, both manager Roy Hodgson and captain Steven Gerrard voted for the brilliant Messi as their winner, with Ronaldo in second.
They differed with their decisions for third-place, though, as the Three Lions boss went for Falcao, while the Liverpool captain opted for former teammate Xabi Alonso.
For Spain, boss Vicente Del Bosque, who himself was recognized on the night with the Coach of the Year award, went for three of his own players; Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta in the top three positions.
Casillas himself had a vote and very surprisingly opted for club and international teammate Sergio Ramos as his No.1 pick, with Ronaldo only second ahead of Iniesta, perhaps hinting at why the Portuguese ace felt his club was not fully supportive of his Ballon d’Or bid.
Messi had a vote as captain for Argentina and did not select Ronaldo in his top three at all, opting for Iniesta, Xavi and Sergio Aguero. Alejandro Sabella voted for Messi, with Ronaldo also absent from his selections.
Portugal matched that tactic, as Bruno Alves, who was voting in place of Ronaldo, went for his teammate as top pick with Messi not in the top three, although coach Paulo Bento did name the Argentine in third.
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli voted for his star player Pirlo over Gianluigi Buffon and then Messi, while Buffon himself also went for the Juventus midfielder as his top choice.
Philipp Lahm backed Iniesta over Messi and Ronaldo, while Germany coach Joachim Low voted Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Xavi as his top three.
France coach Didier Deschamps backed Messi over Ronaldo and Xavi, while Hugo Lloris stayed loyal to the goalkeepers’ union by voting Casillas as No.1 over Falcao and Drogba.
Brazil skipper Thiago Silva’s votes were unremarkable, with Messi beating Ronaldo to top spot and his PSG teammate Ibrahimovic in third.
Louis van Gaal voted for Messi over Ronaldo and Falcao, while Netherlands captain Wesley Sneijder voted Van Persie over Messi (second) and Ronaldo (third).
Darren Fletcher, who was casting votes as Scotland captain, backed former Manchester United teammate Ronaldo at No. 1, with Messi and club teammate Robin van Persie as his other selections.
For a full breakdown of the Ballon d'Or votes, click here to see FIFA's full list from national captains, coaches and media representatives.