Football is a game of opinions. And while everybody has their own on who deserves the FIFA Ballon d’Or for 2012, it’s ultimately down to international coaches and captains and media members to decide whether Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta or Lionel Messi raises the sport’s most prestigious individual prize at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on 7 January 2013.

The victor will be one of several people honoured at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, and the vote to determine which make the FIFA/FIFPro World XI for 2012 is open to all footballers – and you, the supporters, can join in the fun by playing the FIFA/FIFPro World XI predictor. Simply study the 55-man shortlist and pick one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards before the 4 January 2013 deadline. If your team matches the one decided upon by votes from over 50,000 professionals, you will enter a Grand Prize draw to win a FIFA/FIFPro adidas jersey signed by all of the 11 players.

One man who delivered his vote was Gianluigi Buffon, who is one of five men nominated as the side’s goalkeeper along with Iker Casillas, Petr Cech, Joe Hart and Manuel Neuer. The Juventus and Italy No1 was nominated for all three of the previous editions of the FIFA/FIFPro World XI, but lost out to the Real Madrid and Spain custodian on each occasion (Casillas, Iniesta, Messi, Ronaldo and Xavi have appeared in all three editions). Yet despite his desire to get the nod, and the fact players can vote for themselves, Buffon graciously named Cech in between his sticks when he made his choices alongside Bianconeri team-mates such as Lucio, Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio.

Italy-based players have historically struggled to make it into the FIFA/FIFPro World XI – Lucio, Maicon and Wesley Sneijder, who all made the 2010 edition while representing Inter Milan, remain the only ones – but France-based performances have found it impossible. Indeed, Ligue 1 has never been represented.

Jeremy Menez, Javier Pastore, Thiago Silva and their Paris Saint-Germain team-mates were all smiles as they placed their respective XIs in the ballot box. Will one of them, or another of the stars of the French top flight, be grinning with pride at the Gala?

It’s not just those employed by teams in the big European leagues who have been voting. Birkirkara and Malta midfielder Gareth Sciberras was delighted make his opinion count.

“I am proud to form part of the big family of footballer, from different countries, who are voting,” he said. “Being chosen in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI is a very prestigious achievement for a player since it’s the choice of your peers.”

Desmond Maringwa, a veteran player and the President of the Football Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ), certainly played his part in accumulating votes from his homeland. “We went to all members of the FUZ at teams in the Premier Soccer League, including Highlanders, Shabanie Mine, Hardbody, Dynamos, Gunners, Caps United, Blue Rangers, Chicken lnn, Monomotapa, Hwange, Quelaton, Motor Action, Harare City and Black Mambas,” he explained. “All these players were very grateful to be able to contribute to this prestigious voting process. We, the FUZ, are proud that the players in Zimbabwe can show that they too are part of this big football family.”

Your job is now to predict the XI those Zimbabweans and masses of footballers across the globe are determining. Best of luck!