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Football: for the Ballon d’Or, Europe votes Benzema

Does Karim Benzema already have a hand on the Ballon d’Or? The Real Madrid striker is bursting the screens this season in the Champions League and the experts see him hardly any competitors to succeed Lionel Messi on the list of winners of the prestigious trophy.

“Benzema is alone 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 lift the trophy, almost monopolized by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for a decade.

“He’s good now, but he’s been since he arrived. Now they can’t take the Ballon d’Or away from him,” said Florentino Pérez, the all-powerful president of Real, on Saturday night. after the coronation of his team in La Liga.

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As it does every year for one of its players, the merengue club has already started its campaign on social networks to promote its favorite center forward for the vote of international journalists.

Outside Spain, “KB9” is also almost unanimous: “+ Benzemagic + is a serious contender for the Ballon d’Or”, judges the Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, while L’Equipe, in Paris, gives the floor to an ex-winner, Jean-Pierre Papin, who affirms: “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 that today he is one step ahead.”

“Ronaldo’s Shadow”

Regular for years, the French international with 94 selections is currently reaching heights in the Champions League: already 14 goals, including nine 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 reinforced his aura. “What a fantastic game! Give the Ballon d’Or to my guy +Benzi+,” tweeted former Gunner and current Fenerbahçe player Mesut Özil.

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Even his opponents are impressed: “Currently, for me, Benzema is, with Lewandowski, the best striker in the world,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan: “He is good with both feet, good in the air. I think he was underestimated in the past.”

“For a long time, adds the German international, he was in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo especially in the media, 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”, enthused Kicker magazine this week, in Germany, a country where we have been waiting for years to see Robert Lewandowski, the gunner of Bayern twice best Fifa player but never Ballon d’Or, rewarded.

Sadio Mané in ambush

“Karim Benzema has more talent” than Lewandowski, however, slices in Kicker the 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.”

Its competitors? Apart from the Pole, who has little chance this year after the elimination of Bayern in the quarter-finals, Sadio Mané is undoubtedly the best placed.

The Senegalese scored the decisive shots on goal which offered the first CAN in its history to his country and sent 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, believes however his coach at Liverpool Jürgen Klopp.

In the event of a Madrid-Liverpool final, the trophy could 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 first 100 nations in the Fifa rankings, which eliminates a certain number of African voters who could have favored Mané.

There remains a semi-final second leg and perhaps a final in Benzema to enter the pantheon of football definitively.

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