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Benzema beckons for Ballon d’Or

Karim Benzema is all set to receive the Ballon d’Or on home soil at the awards gala to be held on Monday evening at the Théâtre Châtelet in Paris.

In past years the prestigious ceremony has been held towards year end or in the new year but changes made this year by France Football mean the awards will recognise players’ and clubs’ performances from last season rather than a calendar year.

Speaking to 365Scores, Pascal Ferré, editor-in-chief of France Football said about the changes: “The new conditions were not set in favour of any player or club to win the Ballon d’Or, but we believe awarding the award based on what was presented in the season is more realistic.

“I assure you that the new rules came to fix and keep pace with the times and development, and not to fix old mistakes”, Ferré continued.
Robert Lewandowski was snubbed of the Ballon d’Or in 2021, as Lionel Messi walked away with the Golden Ball for a record seventh time.

For the past decade-and-a-half the Ballon d’Or has mostly been traded between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, with the two icons winning it a joint 12 times. Now with both of them aged 35 years or older, the footballing world could start to see an array of Ballon d’Or winners in the years to come, rather than the same incumbents on repeat.

Now, Karim Benzema is braced to scoop the plush accolade, following a most splendid 2021/22 campaign for the Frenchman. Benzema scored a total 44 goals in 46 matches for Real Madrid last term including 27 strikes in LaLiga and 15 in the UEFA Champions League – the most scored by any player in both competitions – to steer Los Blancos to a league and European double for just the second time in 64 years.

Real conquered Europe for a record 14th time with Benzema their most influential component, scoring 15 goals of which 10 came during the three knockout rounds preceding the final, for which he was named UCL Player of the Season.

In August the 34-year-old also captured the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and this past weekend Benzema was on target again to open the scoring as Real recorded a 3-1 victory over arch rivals Barcelona, in what was the 250th edition of El Clasico.

Benzema presented with the UEFA Men’s POTY Award on August 25, 2022.
(Photo by Lukas Schulze/UEFA via Getty Images)

Benzema is to become the fifth player from France to make the top three of the Ballon d’Or this century (after Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry, Franck Ribery, and Antoine Griezmann) and he would be the first French person to win the award since Zidane in 1998.

Alexia Putellas, winner of the 2021 Women’s Ballon d’Or, is in contention to retain her title however England winger Beth Mead presents a firm challenge for the top prize after she collected both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball at Euro 2022.

The Kopa Trophy goes to the best-performing player aged 21 or under. There are several young talents, particularly in LaLiga, who are front-runners with the likes of Ansu Fati (19), Gavi (18), and Rodrygo (21) – not to mention 2021 Kopa winner Pedri (19) – all vying for this very special honour.

Another two names who stand out are Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala. The Bundesliga-based midfielders finished 2nd and 3rd in last year’s Kopa voting and both contingents remain in line to finish high up this time out. The pair of 19-year-olds also headline the nominees for the esteemed Golden Boy award by Italian newspaper Tuttosport.

Bellingham and Musiala in action for their countries.
(Photo by Markus Gilliar/Getty Images)

The Yachine Trophy is given to the best-performing goalkeeper from last season, and Real’s Thibaut Courtois is the favourite to pick up this accolade. The two-metre-tall goalie played 52 times for club, keeping 22 clean sheets and conceding 46 goals at less than a goal per game.

Courtois, 30, missed just two league games but was ever-present for Real in the Champions League, playing every minute of all their 13 matches. He saved a penalty by Messi in the last-16 before putting in a Man of the Match performance in the final against Liverpool, producing nine saves on the night.

Liverpool keeper Alisson was the first winner of the Yachine Trophy in 2019 and Gianluigi Donnarumma claimed it last year after Italy triumphed at the Euros.

The Best Striker award has been renamed the Gerd Müller Trophy, after the ex-Bayern forward, and it is awarded to the striker who scored the most goals for club and country in official games from the previous season. Lewandowski is in pole position with 57 goals last term, 50 for Bayern Munich and seven for Poland, two fewer than he tallied in 2020/21 for which he also scooped Best Striker last year.

A new award has been introduced and it sees French newspaper L’Equipe partner with international organisation Peace and Sport to bestow the Socrates Award. Named after the ex-Brazil midfielder, this title will ‘identify the best solidarity actions carried out by committed champions’.

Last year Chelsea was named Club of the Year after winning the Champions League and this pattern should remain intact with Real Madrid certain to be on the receiving end of this title. Likewise can be said of a managerial prize for Carlo Ancelotti, the first coach to win four UCL titles as well as the first to appear in the final on five occasions.

Ancelotti is also the first manager to win a league title in each of England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Earlier this month the Italian secured a 102nd win in the Champions League, making him the joint-most successful manager in competition history together with Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Ballon d’Or ranking reveal gets underway from 16H30 and the awards ceremony is due to commence at 20H30 CET.

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