Ballon d'Or

Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or on Monday after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and LaLiga.

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Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 appearances for his club, including 15 in the Champions League. He is the first Frenchman to win the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

Karim Benzema views winning the most esteemed individual award in football as the pinnacle of recognition for his outstanding performances with Real Madrid last season and as proof that he has matured as a player and a person during his time away from the French national team due to a sextape scandal.
Benzema was the clear favorite to win the Ballon d’Or at the event on Monday in Paris after scoring for Real against Barcelona in the Clasico on Sunday.

First since Zinedine Zidane in 1998, he is the sixth Frenchman to win the award.

The front page headline of the French daily Le Parisien on Monday was devoted to him since his triumph was seen as being so certain. It read, “The disliked one’s retaliation.”

Recently, Benzema, now 34, was shunned and banned from the France squad for five and a half years due to his role in a blackmail issue involving a sextape involving his former colleague Mathieu Valbuena.

The native of Lyon was found guilty after a trial in late 2017 and received a 75,000 euro ($73,848) fine in addition to a one-year imprisonment with probation.

He made the decision in June not to file an appeal because he wanted to move on and keep the attention on football.

When that time came, he had just finished an incredible season with his team that had helped Real win both the Spanish and Champions League titles.

  • Surprising season

His achievements meant that there was little chance for anybody else to win the Ballon d’Or since the rules for the award had been altered to only include the most recent complete season as opposed to the calendar year.

Ballon d'Or
Karim Benzema won the Ballon d’Or

The numbers are self-explanatory.

Last season, Benzema led La Liga in goals scored with 44 in 46 games for Real, including 27 in the league, making him the league’s leading scorer by a wide margin.

However, his Champions League performance, when he scored 15 goals in 12 games and was the league’s top scorer, was at its peak.

The finest of Benzema’s goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s team came in the knockout stages, although he scored five goals while wearing the captain’s armband in the group stage.

In the dramatic comeback victory against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 and the quarterfinal first leg, he scored a magnificent hat-trick in 17 minutes of the second half. He also scored another goal away at Chelsea.

He scored three more goals over the course of both legs of the semifinal against Manchester City, including an extra-time penalty kick in the return leg that guaranteed Real’s place in the championship game. It was also his extra-time goal in the return leg of that match that prevented a Chelsea comeback.

Although Vinicius Junior scored the game’s lone goal in the championship game, Benzema’s preceding contributions made that triumph against Liverpool in Paris possible.

Since relocating to Madrid in 2009 at the age of 21, the former Lyon striker has already won five Champions League titles.

If you perform well on the field, individual prizes will come as a result, as Benzema recently noted. “What is most important to me is to win collective trophies,” he said.

As a result of his performance outside of the club level, he was previously recognized as the UEFA player of the previous season at a ceremony in August.

In the Nations League, Benzema not only helped France defeat Spain 2-1 but also won his first ever international championship.

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