Nadine Angerer, Germany
At 35 Nadine Angerer could be excused for spending the next few years contentedly looking back on the most decorated of careers but, on the contrary, she is in the form of her life. 2013 will be tough to surpass given captain Angerer proved herself the best goalkeeper in women's football as Germany were crowned European champions largely courtesy of her superlative performance in the final against Norway.
Twice the Scandinavians failed to beat Angerer from the penalty spot as a young German side claimed a 1-0 victory to be crowned the continent's finest. With well over 100 caps for her country Angerer is very much Germany coach Silvia Neid's on-field general. Her performance at the 2013 Euros rightly earned her individual accolades, as she was named Europe's best player. On Monday night Angerer will look to broaden that claim to cover the entire world.
In her own words: "This prize (European Player of the Year) came so unexpectedly. I don't know what to say. There was strong competition from Lena Goessling and Lotta Schelin, Lena won every title this year, she played a fantastic tournament, and Lotta is an incredible forward, so that's why I'm so proud to have won this."
Alongside Hope Solo, Nadine Angerer's name has always been mentioned as one of the best women goalkeepers in the world. Once again she showed the world her full credentials during the summer at the European Championship. She captained a young, inexperienced looking Germany side all the way to the final. She stepped up to the mark when her team needed her on more than one occasion, with a double penalty save the highlight in the final. It was a truly remarkable individual performance on one of the biggest football stages there is. Having played against Germany a number of times myself, Nadine Angerer has always been a cornerstone in the team. On the field she is a true presence and leader.
Considered by many to be the greatest women's player of all-time, five-time FIFA player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) Marta will head into Monday night's gala with every chance of being crowned the world's best once again. Drawing comparisons with male counterpart and compatriot Pele (she's been given the somewhat condescending moniker 'Pele in skirts'), the 27-year-old's extravagant array of skills are a sight to behold. 80 goals in just 72 international appearances is testimony to a player who could hang up her boots tomorrow and still leave a significant legacy.
Her domestic career has encompassed spells in America, Bolivia and Sweden, along with time at Vasco da Gama and Santos in her homeland. Currently she plies her trade at Swedish club Tyreso FF. As with Lionel Messi, the only blot on her copybook is a lack of silverware at international level, with Brazil having yet to taste glory in either the Olympics or World Cup.
In her own words: "It's harder for women. The men earn a lot of money, and they have a lot of clubs they can choose to play for. We work very hard, but we're always thinking about what might happen next year - if there's going to be a team or a place for me."
I can't remember a time that we have not seen Marta's name on the list and that speaks volumes of how consistent she has been and what a world class player she continues to be in the women's game. Regardless of your sex, if you like football you will have heard about what a great player Marta is. I remember playing for Team GB against Brazil at Wembley and listening to people talking about how excited they were to watch Marta play live. That's what Marta does. She attracts crowds and excitement with her skill level. Being called the female Messi of the women's game shows how people perceive Marta as a player. Despite having already won the Ballon d'Or on five previous occasions, she nonetheless will be desperate to get her hands on the award once again.
Abby Wambach, USA
In June of last year a four-goal salvo moved New York native Wambach to the top of her country's scoring charts, as she surpassed Mia Hamm's all-time record of 158. She's not getting any younger at 33 but few would dispute that Wambach will add to a record that currently reads 163 goals in 212 appearances for the US. As the FIFA World Player of the Year and six-time winner of the US Soccer Athlete of the Year, it's not as though Wamback is short of individual honours but the Ballon d'Or would perfectly cap a prolific 2013 for club and country.
In three World Cup tournaments and two Olympics she has proved her credentials at the very highest level in plundering 22 goals in 29 matches. Like Mantra, Wambach is yet to win a World Cup winners' medal but does have the consolation of twice having won Olympic gold. The closest she came to World Cup glory was in 2011 when USA lost out in a penalty shoot-out to Japan in the final after a 2-2 draw (AET).
In her own words: "We aren't on the planet alone and whether people like to admit it or not, all we can do is learn from each other in the course of a lifetime. I sometimes struggle because I don't find myself inspiring, because it's just me, in my own skin. If people feel like that, then let's use this as another experience to give them a gauge in how to react in tough situations, give them a platform as a possibility. Anytime you can learn from something."
The prolific striker picked up the award last year for the first time after her magnificent displays in the London Olympics. When people ask me who is the hardest player I have played against, it always comes down to Marta or Abby. In the end I go with Abby. The reason being is that she is just so powerful and strong. She never gives a defender any time to rest on the ball. She scores all types of goals too, long range efforts, taps in and headers. She has all the attributes that a striker needs and to top it off, possesses a never say die attitude that makes her a true champion. The scary thing is it does not seem like Wambach is ready to rest on her laurels just yet, as she is still scoring at will for her country.
Who's going to win it?
Alex: I am going to put my neck out on the line and say Nadine Angerer. I just think on the international front she had a massive input into helping her team secure a European Championship winners' medal. An impressive display not only in the final but throughout the whole tournament just edges her ahead of the other two in my opinion. But football comes down to a matter of opinions at the end of the day, so I'm just going to leave it with 'good luck to all three ladies up for the award and may the best woman win'.