INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL

Messi names his preferred Ballon d’Or winner

PSG

Lionel Messi thinks that Karim Benzema is set to win the Ballon d’Or this year. The Frenchman led Real Madrid to another Champions League title along with the La Liga. He bagged 44 goals in all competitions, making him the clear favorite to claim the annual prestigious award.

Ballon d’Or: Recent History

In 2021, Messi pipped Lewandowski to the award in a controversial manner, which came as a surprise to the footballing world. The Argentine has won the most Ballon d’Or awards(7) since its inauguration in 1956. Cristiano Ronaldo is not far behind with 5 but it doesn’t look like he will catch Messi again, as both of them enter the final stages of their illustrious careers.

In a recent interview with TYC Sports, Messi said

“I think there are no doubts Benzema should win Ballon d’Or,”

The award that is given away by the french magazine France Football, is set to be announced in October. The award has shown a recency bias towards attackers in recent years, but Benzema deservedly leads the race.

Lev Yashin still remains the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or till now, some defenders like Cannavaro and Beckenbauer have also won the award. In recent years only Virgil Van Dijk has come close when he finished 2nd behind Messi in 2019 despite winning the UCL, Super Cup, and Club World Cup.

Real Madrid’s Saviour: Big Benz

Karim Benzema has been on fire in the 21/22 season, racking up 44 goals in all competitions. Along with the emergence of Vinicius Jr. on the left flank (20 goals and 20 assists), they formed a dangerous duo and developed into great attacking outlets on the counter and in transition.

Benzema’s playmaking ability combined with Vini’s pace and trickery led Ancelotti’s side to the double this season. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, the 33-year-old Frenchman has become the talisman and also returned to the French national team.

France clinched the Nations League in March with his help, which has only helped cement his place at the top of the Ballon d’Or power rankings.

Madrid and Champions League: A never-ending love story

Real Madrid clinched their 13th UCL recently after beating Liverpool 1-0 in France thanks to a second-half Vinicius goal.

Benzema scored 15 goals in the competition, a hat-trick against PSG, another against Chelsea, and crucial contributions against Manchester City. Never mind a blank in the final, this was the year Benzema won Real Madrid the Champions League and has probably won himself the Ballon d’Or too.

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