Benzema’s candidacy for the Ballon d’Or begins to conquer Europe

Does Karim Benzema already have a hand on the Ballon d’Or? The Real Madrid attacker is playing in an extraordinary way this season in the Champions League and the experts see no trace of competition to replace Lionel Messi in the list of winners of the prestigious trophy.

“Benzema is left alone in the race for the Ballon d’Or,” estimates the newspaper Marca, the best-selling newspaper in Spain, where no one doubts that the number 9 of the “White House” will finally be able to lift a trophy practically monopolized by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi during the last decade.

“Benzema has been good now and since he came, but now no one can doubt that they have to give him the Ballon d’Or this year, they can no longer take it away from him,” Florentino Pérez, the almighty president of Real Madrid, bluntly expressed. , on Saturday night after his team won the League.

Like every year, the merengue club has already started the campaign in favor of one of its players on social networks, to promote its star center forward this year, who is also closely watched by international journalists.

Outside of Spain, Benzema unleashed practically the same unanimity: “‘Benzemagic’ is a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or”, judges the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, while in Paris, L’Equipe gives voice to former winner Jean-Pierre Papin ( Ballon d’Or in 1991), who states: “Today, for me, he is the best attacker in the world, the best number nine. Karim’s last dream is the Ballon d’Or and I think he has an advantage today.”

Ronaldo’s Shadow

Regular for years, the former Lyon attacker is reaching the top of the Champions League this season: he has already scored 14 goals, of which 9 have been in knockout stages, with two hat-tricks against Paris SG and Chelsea.

His double and his fantastic performance in the first leg of the semi-final against Manchester City (4-3) have only reinforced his aura. “What a fantastic game! Give the Ballon d’Or to my friend ‘Benzi’,” tweeted former Gunner and current Fenerbahçe player Mesut Özil, who coincided with the Frenchman at Real Madrid.

Even his opponents are impressed: “Today, for me, Benzema is with Lewandowski the best attacker in the world,” City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan said. “He’s good with both feet, good in the air. I think he’s been underrated in the past.”

“For a long time he has been in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, especially in the media,” adds the German international, “but now he is finally getting the attention and recognition he deserves.”

“And it’s not just about what he does, but above all about the way he does it,” Kicker magazine said this week in Germany, a country where they have been waiting for years to see Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski rewarded. Twice elected best FIFA player but never Ballon d’Or.

mane on the prowl

“Karim Benzema has more talent” than Lewandowski, however, former Spanish international goalkeeper Santiago Cañizares opines in Kicker. “He combines better, often plays far from the area, he can build like a number 10, shoot like a 9… Benzema is a more complete player.”

Your competition? Apart from the Pole, who has few options this year after Bayern’s elimination in the quarter-finals, Sadio Mané is undoubtedly the best positioned.

The Senegalese scored the decisive penalties to win his country’s first African Cup of Nations and to send his team to the World Cup.

“When you’re not Messi or Ronaldo, you probably have to win the Champions League” to have a chance of winning the Ballon d’Or, estimates his Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp.

The 2021-2022 award will be voted on by a jury of 100 journalists (compared to 170 in previous editions) representing the top 100 nations in the FIFA ranking, which eliminates a certain number of African voters who could have opted for Mané.

Benzema has the second leg of the semifinal and perhaps the final to definitively enter the pantheon of football.

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