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Ballon d'Or: time for consecration for Karim Benzema?

If the games are open for the female award, the supreme distinction does not seem to be able to escape in men's "serial goalscorer" Real Madrid.

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Ballon d'Or: time for consecration for Karim Benzema?

If the games are open for the female award, the supreme distinction does not seem to be able to escape in men's "serial goalscorer" Real Madrid.

"If they don't cancel it, he will probably win this Ballon d'Or, yes", his competitor Robert Lewandowski slipped Thursday in a bit of scathing humor, he who had seen the trophy slip through his hands in 2020, the gala having been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Benzema, he ticks all the boxes to get it: winner of the Champions League and the Spanish Championship in club, of the League of Nations in selection, top scorer and player in Spain in 2021-2022, author of 50 goals in all competitions, the native of Lyon appears as the No.1 contender for the trophy.

The prestigious gala organized at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, from 8:30 p.m., is to crown the successors of the Spaniard Alexia Putellas and the Argentinian Lionel Messi, seven times winner but conspicuously absent from the list of 30 nominees, a first since 2005 .

- Mane and Lewandowski in ambush -

This year, the candidates for the trophy piloted by the magazine France Football are not so numerous behind "KB9".

Lewandowski certainly had another full season at Bayern Munich before joining Barcelona this summer, but the Pole has hardly shone in Europe. Kylian Mbappé was sparkling with Paris SG but suffered the law of Real de Benzema in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

And Sadio Mané also failed against Real in the C1 final (1-0), after being African champion with Senegal and vice-champion of England with Liverpool.

No suspense according to Carlo Ancelotti, coach of Benzema at Real. "He scored many goals, he finished the season well and now he's heading straight for the Ballon d'Or. Is there still any doubt? For me, none."

Benzema can become the fifth Frenchman to put his name on the list, the first since Zinédine Zidane in 1998.

"This year has been the best of my career on a personal level," he said this summer after receiving the UEFA Player of the Year trophy.

"What has changed is this goal statistic, but my game has been the same since I was a kid," assured the player trained at OL, who had long remained in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid before take control and light at the start of the Portuguese in 2018.

Absent from the France team between 2015 and 2021 after "the sextape affair", the striker with 97 selections will not want to stop there, even in the event of Ballon d'Or: the World Cup-2022, in Qatar (November 20-December 18), offers him the opportunity to add another golden line to his already well-stocked list.

- Whores or Mead? -

Reformed this year, the Ballon d'Or regulations are even more favorable to the French. It now covers the sports season (in this case 2021-2022) and not the calendar year, which includes the title in the League of Nations obtained in October 2021 with the Blues.

And he insists on "the individual performances" and the "decisive and impressive character" of the applicants.

For its fourth edition, the Women's Ballon d'Or promises to be much tighter. Defending champion Alexia Putellas (28, FC Barcelona) surprisingly won the UEFA Player of the Year trophy at the end of August, when she was seriously injured just before the Euros, the main competition of the season.

But the English Beth Mead (27, Arsenal), best player and co-top scorer in the European Championship won in July by the Lionesses at home, compiles more impressive statistics than the Spaniard over the last few months.

The ceremony will also crown the best goalkeeper of the season (Yachine trophy), promised to Madrid's Thibaut Courtois, and the best young player (Kopa trophy).

A new award was also created this year, the "Socrates Prize", celebrating the footballers who are most involved in societal and charitable projects.

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