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News ID: 107860
Publish Date : 16 October 2022 - 21:23
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MADRID (AFP) - Karim Benzema is expected to win the men’s Ballon d’Or at a ceremony in Paris and thereby become the first Frenchman to claim the most prestigious individual prize in football since Zinedine Zidane almost quarter of a century ago.
There are 30 nominees, but the Real Madrid striker is the outstanding candidate after his remarkable performances last season helped his club win the Champions League and La Liga.
Benzema scored an astonishing 44 goals in 46 games for his club including 15 in the Champions League.
His exploits included a hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, and another away to Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg. He also scored three more goals over both legs of the semi-final against Manchester City.
Benzema was named the UEFA player of the year in August, and he is living a marvellous twilight to his career with the World Cup to come.
Formerly a pariah, frozen out of the France team for five and a half years because of his involvement in a blackmail scandal over a sextape involving teammate Mathieu Valbuena, Benzema has put that behind him and is playing the best football of his career with his 35th birthday approaching the day after the World Cup final.
“What is most important to me is to win collective trophies. If you do things well on the field, individual awards will follow,” Benzema pointed out recently.
His victory at the Chatelet Theatre in the French capital seems an inevitability.
“If they don’t cancel it then he’s probably going to win this Ballon d’Or,” said Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski this week.
That was a joke by the Pole, who would surely have been crowned in 2020 had that year’s award not been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Normal service was restored last year when Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time, but he is not even nominated this time after a disappointing season at Paris Saint-Germain.

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