Actual Madrid striker Karim Benzema gained the boys’s Golden Ball award on Monday, changing into the primary Frenchman to win probably the most prestigious particular person award in soccer since Zinedine Zidane practically 1 / 4 of a century in the past. On the Girls’s Ballon d’Or competitors, Spain’s Alexia Putillas noticed stiff competitors to win the award for the second yr in a row.
Benzema, 34, was the favourite after his spectacular performances final season helped his workforce win the Champions League and La Liga. He scored an astonishing 44 targets in 46 video games for his membership, together with 15 within the Champions League.
His exploits included a hat-trick in 17 minutes in opposition to Paris Saint-Germain within the spherical of 16, and one other away for Chelsea within the first leg of the quarter-finals. He additionally scored three extra targets within the two semi-final first leg matches in opposition to Manchester Metropolis.
Benzema, who additionally gained the European Nations League title with France final season, pushed Bayern Munich and Senegal star Sadio Mane to second place, and Kevin De Bruyne, participant of Manchester Metropolis and Belgium, got here in third.
Monday’s award means Benzema is now the fifth French participant to win the Ballon d’Or, following within the footsteps of Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984 and 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane. Zidane (1998).
The Actual Madrid star was additionally named UEFA Participant of the Yr in August. He’s experiencing an exquisite twilight in his soccer profession with the 2022 World Cup, the place Fransgo was the defending champion, but to return.
The Golden Ball was topped with a outstanding transformation of a participant who had turn out to be an outcast in his homeland, suspended from the France workforce for 5 and a half years as a consequence of his involvement in a blackmail scandal over a intercourse tape involving his teammate. Matthew Valbuena.
Having put this scandal behind him, Benzema is enjoying the very best soccer of his profession as his thirty fifth birthday approaches the day after the World Cup last.
Karim Benzema celebrates the Champions League title after Purple’s last victory over Liverpool. © Paul Ellis, AFP “This award in entrance of me makes me actually proud. After I was younger, it was my childhood dream, I by no means gave up… something is feasible,” Benzema mentioned on stage.
“There was a tough interval after I wasn’t within the French nationwide workforce however I by no means gave up. I am actually pleased with my journey right here. It wasn’t straightforward, it was a troublesome time for my household too.”
His victory has all the time appeared inevitable, with one among his foremost rivals, Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski, saying this week: “If they do not name off the win, he might probably win this Ballon d’Or.” It was a joke from the Polish striker, who would virtually actually have been topped in 2020 had the Ballon d’Or that yr not been canceled as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Frenchman is the second oldest Ballon d’Or winner after Stanley Matthews, who was 41 when he took house his first Ballon d’Or in 1956, behind Lionel Messi, who was not even among the many nominees this yr after a disappointing season. in Paris Saint-Germain.
Apart from Benzema, three different members of Actual Madrid’s Champions League profitable facet made it into the highest ten: Vinicius, evergreen Luka Modric and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Vinicius scored the one purpose in Actual Madrid’s victory over Liverpool, whereas Courtois was named “Man of the Match”.
Within the Girls’s Ballon d’Or competitors, Spain’s Alexia Putillas turned the primary participant to win back-to-back awards, beating 20 different contestants together with three members of the European Championship-winning England squad. .
Botelas, who adopted within the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg and Megan Rapinoe with victory a yr in the past, led Barcelona to the Champions League last final season in addition to the home league and cup double. She was the Champions League high scorer with 11 targets, though her membership misplaced the ultimate to Lyon.
The 28-year-old is presently recovering from a severe knee damage that induced her to overlook the European Summer time Championship with Spain.
“The knee is in good condition,” Putillas mentioned. “I simply have to deal with the restoration and if it goes in addition to I hope – and because the docs and my workforce hope – I hope to be again enjoying this season.”
Spain’s Alexia Putillas is the primary participant to win the Ballon d’Or twice in a row. © Frank Fife, AFP La Roja, missing in Botelas’ creativity, was eradicated in extra time by England on the European Championships, and now has its sights set on the World Cup in July 2022, though its participation is questionable – and never solely as a consequence of damage.
The Barcelona captain confirmed its management by publishing an announcement calling for the change, together with 15 nationwide workforce gamers who requested to not be known as up from Spain, amid disagreements with coach Jorge Velda and the Spanish Soccer Federation.
Regardless of being injured and unavailable for choice, Putellas posted the message on Twitter in solidarity along with her teammates, who haven’t been a part of the workforce’s latest matches.
This place characterizes her, together with earlier award winners, Norwegian Ada Hegerberg and American Megan Rapinoe, as sturdy in-game characters, able to take a place removed from the ranks and excel in it.
(France 24 with AFP and Reuters)