Benzema named Champions League Player of the Season after Real Madrid heroics

By Sports Desk May 31, 2022

Karim Benzema has been named the 2021-22 Champions League Player of the Season after helping Real Madrid to a 14th European crown.

Benzema also won the competition's Goal of the Season honour for a supreme header against Chelsea in the quarter-finals, while team-mate Vinicius Junior has been named Young Player of the Season.

The duo were instrumental in Madrid's defying run to Saturday's final in Paris, where Vinicius' finish was enough to earn a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

With 15 goals across the season, Benzema topped the scoring charts in Europe, with a joint-record ten of those goals in the knockout stage.

The attacker, a heavy favourite for the Ballon d'Or this season, was at the centre of dramatic comeback wins against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Vinicius meanwhile delivered four goals and six assists throughout, with the latter tally only bettered by Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes.

Both Madrid players were named to the Champions League Team of the Season, alongside club-mates Thibaut Courtois and Luka Modric.

Courtois made nine saves in the final to keep Liverpool at bay. He finished the Champions League campaign having faced 72 shots on target, conceding 14 goals. According to expected goals data, the Belgium international prevented 4.7 goals.

 

Beaten finalists Liverpool also contributed four players, with Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson featuring.

Kylian Mbappe, who scored six goals in eight Champions League matches, was named alongside Benzema and Vinicius in attack – an attacking trio that might have been lining up for Los Blancos next season had the France forward not decided to stay at PSG.

City playmaker De Bruyne also made the XI, as did Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, who is set to join Madrid on a free transfer.

2021-22 UEFA Champions League Team of the Season: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Andy Robertson (Liverpool); Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Fabinho (Liverpool), Luka Modric (Real Madrid); Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).

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    Benzema tied level in second place on the club's list of scorers back in May, when he equalled Los Blancos great Raul on 323 goals with a header in a 6-0 rout of Levante.

    He is now alone in second, on 324, after netting Madrid's second against Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday in Helsinki.

    With David Alaba having put Madrid ahead in the first half, Benzema made it 2-0 in the 65th minute as he struck up with Vinicius Junior for a familiar combination.

    Vinicius assisted Benzema 10 times last season, and the Brazil winger's cross from the left side of the area presented Madrid's new club captain with the chance to side-foot home a first-time finish that crept through Kevin Trapp.

    Only Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a remarkable 450 goals during his nine-year spell at Santiago Bernabeu between 2009 and 2018, stands ahead of Benzema, though it would seem unlikely the 34-year-old France striker will go on to match that record.

     

  • Nunez gives Liverpool a 'fantastic mix' in attack, says Milner Nunez gives Liverpool a 'fantastic mix' in attack, says Milner

    James Milner believes the addition of Darwin Nunez means Liverpool have a "fantastic mix" in attack this season.

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    "Since he's been here, he's been impressive on the field, worked hard, makes great runs and is desperate to put his head on the ball in the box.

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    Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti named the same team to start against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Super Cup as he did for the Champions League final victory over Liverpool.

    Ancelotti had already confirmed his team would be the same as the one that started in Paris, and he followed through on that pledge for Wednesday's clash in Helsinki.

    Thibaut Courtois was the star of the show in the 1-0 win over Liverpool on May 28, and the Belgian kept his place in goal behind a defence of Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy, with new arrival Antonio Rudiger among the substitutes.

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    Madrid's bench included Rodrygo, a hero of their Champions League campaign, and Aurelien Tchouameni, another new signing.

    Meanwhile, Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner made two changes to his starting XI following Saturday's 6-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

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    Madrid are in the hunt for a fifth Super Cup triumph. The last time Los Blancos met Eintracht, they triumphed 7-3 in Glasgow in the 1960 European Cup final.

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