La Roja stars Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba and Sergio Ramos are all in the running as the 20 candidates for this year's ultimate defence are named
The likes of Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Pepe have all been named amongst the 20 candidates for a place in this year's ultimate side.
Chelsea captain John Terry, Borussia Dortmund star Mats Hummels and Paris Saint-Germain's summer signing Thiago Silva have also been nominated, while Giorgio Chiellini is surprisingly the only Juventus defender selected despite the Bianconeri's 49-game unbeaten streak in Serie A over the last 12 months.
The 50,000 players who belong to the professional footballers' union Fifpro were each invited to vote in a secret ballot to nominate their peers for the World XI, choosing the best goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards from 2012.
The nominees for the midfield and forward positions will be revealed on November 26 and 29 respectively, with the final World XI selection announced at the Ballon d'Or award ceremony on January 7, 2013.
Shortlist in full:
Jordi Alba (Spain, Barcelona); Gareth Bale (Wales, Tottenham); Giorgio Chiellini (Italy, Juventus); Ashley Cole (England, Chelsea); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona); David Luiz (Brazil, Chelsea); Patrice Evra (France, Manchester United); Rio Ferdinand (England, Manchester United); Mats Hummels (Germany, Borussia Dortmund); Branislav Ivanovic (Serbia, Chelsea); Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Manchester City); Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Javier Mascherano (Argentina, Barcelona); Pepe (Portugal, Real Madrid); Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona); Carles Puyol (Spain, Barcelona); Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid); John Terry (England, Chelsea); Thiago Silva (Brazil, Paris Saint-Germain).