Benzema deserves Ballon d'Or and time has come to reward Real Madrid star, says Zidane

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Karim Benzema deserves to become the first French winner of the Ballon d'Or since Zinedine Zidane – and that verdict comes from Zidane himself.

Real Madrid striker Benzema, who has taken over the captaincy since Sergio Ramos joined Paris Saint-Germain, is playing the best football of his career as he approaches his 34th birthday in December.

Zidane has seen that as close quarters, having had two spells as Madrid head coach during Benzema's time at the club.

Although Zidane left Los Blancos at the end of last season, he is firmly in the Benzema camp when it comes to selecting a Ballon d'Or front-runner.

Speaking to TF1's Telefoot, Zidane said: "We're talking about a player who deserves to win this Ballon d'Or.

"He's an incredible player, I had the great honour of coaching him. He knows how to do everything on the pitch. I hope he can be rewarded with this Ballon d'Or. It's the right moment because he's at the top of his game."

 

France international Benzema has been Madrid's attacking spearhead since Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus in 2018 and has risen to that challenge.

He has topped the 20-goal mark in LaLiga in the last three seasons and has nine strikes in eight games so far this term in the Spanish top flight.

Last season, Benzema's 23 league goals came at an average of one every 126.13 minutes. They also came from an expected goals total of 18.81, indicating he is excelling in taking the chances that come his way.

His LaLiga shot conversion rate so far in 2021-22 is 26.47 per cent, higher than he has achieved across any full league campaign since arriving in 2009 from Lyon.

With three LaLiga titles and four Champions League wins in 12 years, Benzema has accrued plenty of silverware while with Los Blancos, much of it during Zidane's time in charge. He also helped France win the Nations League last weekend, scoring a stunning goal against Spain in the final.

Now, individual acclaim may be coming his way, although Benzema faces stiff competition, with six-time winner Lionel Messi rated a favourite for the Ballon d'Or with British bookmakers, having helped Argentina win the Copa America.

Benzema recently said it had been a long-held "dream of mine" to win the coveted award.

Robert Lewandowski's record-breaking 41-goal Bundesliga season last term also puts him firmly into contention, while Jorginho has a strong claim after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy.

The Ballon d'Or winner will be announced on November 29 at a ceremony in Paris.

Related items

  • Kimmich to miss remainder of 2021 due to lung problem Kimmich to miss remainder of 2021 due to lung problem

    Bayern Munich will be without Joshua Kimmich for the remainder of 2021 as the midfielder recovers from coronavirus.

    Kimmich, who has not yet been vaccinated against the virus, has not played for Bayern since November 6.

    The 26-year-old was considered a close contact of Bayern team-mate Niklas Sule, who returned a positive PCR test result while on international duty with Germany last month.

    After going through a period of isolation, Kimmich was forced to quarantine again when he was classed as a contact of another suspected COVID-19 case. He then tested positive for the virus himself later in November.

    Kimmich has stated he is unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until more is known about possible long-term effects. 

    Although Kimmich is no longer suffering from COVID-19, Bayern have confirmed he will not return to action until January.

    Kimmich explained this was due to "slight infiltrations" in his lungs, which mean he has been unable to train fully.

    "I'm happy my self-isolation caused by the coronavirus has ended," Kimmich said in a statement released on Bayern's official website.

    "I'm doing very well, but I'm not yet able to train fully due to slight infiltrations in my lungs. I'll therefore do some rehabilitative training and can't wait to be fully back in action in January."

    Bayern, who are having to play their home games behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions imposed in Bavaria, face Mainz, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg before the Bundesliga takes its winter break.

    Julian Nagelsmann's side beat Barcelona 3-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League, a victory that followed up Saturday's contentious 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund.

    That Klassiker success lifted Bayern four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

  • Ashes 2021-22: Lewis defends England selection, Stokes fitness to be assessed Ashes 2021-22: Lewis defends England selection, Stokes fitness to be assessed

    England fast bowling coach Jon Lewis defended the tourists' selection for the first Ashes Test and says Ben Stokes' fitness will be assessed ahead of day three at the Gabba.

    Australia are in command of the series-opener in Brisbane after closing on 343-7 in reply to England's 147 all out, leading by 196 runs.

    Travis Head (112 not out) smashed the third-fastest Ashes century off only 85 balls after David Warner made 94 and Marnus Labuschagne crafted 74 on day two.

    Ollie Robinson was the pick of the England bowlers, taking 3-48, but had to leave the field with a hamstring injury, although the paceman later revealed he had not done serious damage.

    Stokes also sustained a knee injury on a tough day for Joe Root's side in the heat, with spinner Jack Leach's 11 overs going for 95.

    But Lewis says the selectors did not feel they ought to have played an extra seamer.

    "We looked at the pitch on the day before the game and the morning of the game and decided to go with the make-up of the team that we have," he told reporters.

    "That's what we felt was the right decision at the time, and I think if we'd have all bowled to the best of our ability, we would have put Australia under a bit more pressure than we did today.

    "We still took several Australian wickets. We are a bit behind in the game; however, like I said to the lads before, I know the guys will come back fighting in the next few days."

    Lewis was unable to shed any light on the extent of the damage Stokes has done.

    Asked about the all-rounder's injury, he replied: "I don't know, I don't assess players, I'm not part of the medical team. We'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

    Stokes bowled Warner for 17, but the opener was reprieved as England's vice-captain had over-stepped.

    Warner was also dropped by Rory Burns on 48 and should have been run out when he had 60 to his name on a bad day for the tourists in the field.

  • Rennes return to France following Spurs postponement Rennes return to France following Spurs postponement

    Rennes have confirmed their squad is returning to France after their Europa Conference League match with Tottenham was postponed.

    Spurs stated on Wednesday that Thursday's encounter with the Ligue 1 side at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had been called off due to an outbreak of COVID-19 within Antonio Conte's squad.

    Conte said that eight players and five members of staff had contracted the virus in what he labelled a "serious problem".

    Spurs have reportedly asked the Premier League to postpone Sunday's meeting with Brighton and Hove Albion.

    However, Rennes released a statement on Wednesday claiming Tottenham had made a "unilateral" decision to postpone Thursday's clash without UEFA ratification.

    Confirmation from the governing body has now been given to Rennes, though, with the visiting club's squad and coaching staff travelling back to France following full negative coronavirus test results.

    In a statement published on their official website, Rennes, who play Nice on Sunday, made clear that the rearranged fixture must not further congest a hectic schedule or disrupt their mid-season break.

    The statement read: "After being informed of the cancellation of tonight's match by UEFA, Stade Rennais FC decided to return to Brittany. The entire delegation that will board at London City Airport has tested negative.

    "Stade Rennais FC hope that the interests of the club will be respected given the important sporting deadlines that await the Rouge et Noir this December. 

    "Stade Rennais FC is deeply sorry for the Rennes fans who decided to come to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to cheer on the Rouge et Noir."

    Rennes have two Ligue 1 matches and one Coupe de France game before they take a break over Christmas, resuming their season on January 8.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.