The format change in the awarding of the Golden Ball opens the door to a reward for Karim Benzema, author of the best season of his career and favorite for consecration after his new masterful performance at Chelsea-Real which follows from many others.
Lionel Messi has been celebrating his seventh Ballon d’Or in just four months, but the name of his potential successor is already stealing the show. Since football is driven by the emotions and culture of the moment, Karim Benzema is propelled this Thursday as the new favorite for the supreme individual award. Except that the Real striker is not a flash in the pan, he shines over time. Better, it “improves like good wine”, according to Carlo Ancelotti. At 34, the French international signs the best season of his career. The figures confirm it since he had never reached such a number of goals in a season. He has 37 in 36 games in a season that is still far from over.
Benzema wants it, Ferdinand and the fans promise it
Fourth in 2021, Benzema does not hide his goal of reaching the holy grail. “It’s a goal, admitted the French international in an interview with L’Equipe. Especially since last year I was not far, but I had not won a trophy (in club). There, I’m having a very good season. The Ballon d’Or is a motivation, but not only personal. I include the team. Because if I manage to take my team to win trophies, there will necessarily be individual rewards behind it. .”
The format change in the awarding of the Golden Ball could help him in his quest. From now on, the winner will be chosen over a season, and no longer over a calendar year. Benzema clearly has something to play for as Real are top of La Liga with 12 points ahead of second-placed Barça (who have one game less) and look set to reach the semi-finals of the League champions. This gives him an advantage over his compatriot Kylian Mbappé, stratospheric with PSG but eliminated in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The competition will be tough with Robert Lewandowski, very disappointed with the last vote and an impressive goal machine (45 goals in 39 games).
But the Frenchman presents something more: a kind of romanticism in his way of conceiving football, of picking up to build actions. The next Ballon d’Or will not take into account the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for November-December. So there are still two months of competition to make the difference. A new coronation of Real in the Champions League would roll out the red carpet for him. Otherwise, the club will use its art of lobbying to cover its players with gold. The program El Chiringuito launched a consultation on Twitter on Wednesday evening and the result is clear: Benzema collected 80% of the 55,000 votes as the player most deserving of the Golden Ball, far ahead of Robert Lewandowski (9%), Kylian Mbappé (7.4%) and Mohamed Salah (3.4%).
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“He is the best number 9 on the planet for me, launched Rio Ferdinand, former Manchester United defender now a consultant for BT Sport. We can talk about Lewandowski, a great player. Harry Kane returned to this form that we all knew, great player. This guy (Benzema) at the moment is on another level. He’s phenomenal, he impacts the game in so many different areas, not just goals, assists, game links and slowdown in play. He looks like a playmaker, but he’s a number 9 who has scored 37 goals.”
“Karim Benzema, if they don’t engrave his name on the Ballon d’Or by the end of the season, I would be surprised. He was magical, magnificent with a hat-trick against PSG and then another against Chelsea. This man makes the difference.”