Does Karim Benzema already have a hand on the Ballon d’Or? The Real Madrid striker has been bursting off the screens in the Champions League this season and those in the know see him barely competing to succeed Lionel Messi on the list of winners of the prestigious trophy.
“Benzema is the only one in the race for the Ballon d’Or,” estimates Marca, the best-selling newspaper in Spain, where no one doubts that the number 9 of the “White House” can finally wear the trophy, almost monopolized by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for a decade.
“He’s good now, but he’s been that way since he arrived. Now they can’t take the Ballon d’Or away from him,” said Florentino Perez, the all-powerful president of Real, on Saturday night after his team’s coronation. in LaLiga.
Foot – Liga – Benzema’s Real Madrid crowned champion of Spain after his success at Espanyol
As every year for one of its players, the merengue club has already started a campaign on social networks to promote its favorite striker for the vote of international journalists.
Outside of Spain, “KB9” is also almost unanimous: “+ Benzemagic + is a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or”, judges the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, while in Paris L’Equipe gives the floor to an ex-winner, Jean -Pierre Papin, who confirms: “For me today he is the best striker in the world, the best number nine. The last dream for Karim is the Ballon d’Or. I think he is one step ahead today.”
The French international with 94 selections has been a fixture in the Champions League for years: already 14 goals, nine of which in the knockout phase, with two hat-tricks against Paris and Chelsea.
His double, and especially his phenomenal performance in the semi-final first leg against Manchester City (4-3), only enhanced his appearance. “What a fantastic game! Give the Ballon d’Or to my husband +Benzi+,” tweeted former Gunner and current Fenerbahçe player Mesut Özil.
Champions League: Benzema, Real Madrid’s number 1 weapon at Manchester City
Even his opponents are impressed: “At the moment, for me, with Lewandowski, Benzema is the best striker in the world,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan: “He’s good with both feet, good in the air. I think he was underestimated in the past.”
“For a long time, the Germany international added, he was mostly in the media shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, 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 how he does it,” said Kicker magazine enthusiastically this week, in Germany, a country we’ve been waiting for years to see Robert Lewandowski, Bayern’s striker twice as much. good to see. FIFA player but never Ballon d’Or, rewarded.
Sadio Mane in ambush
“Karim Benzema has more talent” than Lewandowski, however, cuts Kicker’s former Spanish international goalkeeper Santiago Canizares. “He combines better, he often plays away from the box, he can build like a number 10, shoot like a 9… Benzema is a more complete player.”
His competitors? Apart from the Pole, who has little chance this year after the elimination of Bayern in the quarter-finals, Sadio Mane is undoubtedly the best seeded.
The Senegalese scored the decisive shots on goal, giving his country the first CAN in its history and sending his team to the World Cup.
“If you’re not Messi or Ronaldo, you probably need to win the Champions League” to have a chance at the Ballon d’Or, says Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp.
In the case of a Madrid-Liverpool final, the trophy can then be played over a match.
The 2021-2022 winner will be chosen in September or October by a jury of 100 journalists (compared to 170 previously) representing the top 100 countries in the FIFA rankings, eliminating a certain number of African voters who could have gone to Mané to lean.
There remains a semi-final of the return and perhaps a final in Benzema to definitively enter the pantheon of football.