The time is no longer Messi-Ronaldo – today is the night to say it. Karim Benzema is the man of the day The Ballon d’Or winner.
2008 to 1017 – these 10 years the Ballon d’Or has been dominated by two legends. Some of the two have won. And in the last 14 years, one of them has won 12 out of 13 times. Lionel Messi has won it 7 times, and Cristiano Ronaldo 5 times.
Luka Modric. Their reign ended in 2018. Seeing Ronaldo’s runner-up that year, Messi’s fifth, some say the voters may have decided to end their reign!
But it was no longer the case when Messi won the following year. The possibility of losing the Messi–Ronaldo reign in 2020 was raised again. Everyone was watching the Ballon d’Or at the hands of Robert Lewandowski. The coronavirus ate! I mean, the Ballon d’Or was not awarded. When it was awarded the following year, Messi again took the stage, lifting the trophy in his hands. If desired, the background of their reign can also be taken into consideration.
Even though Kaka won the 2007 Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo won two, and Messi won three. That uncle is now the subject of a more than a decade-long Ballon d’Or quiz—’Who was the last Ballon d’Or winner before the collapse of the Messi-Ronaldo reign?’
That is, this is the first time in the last 16 years that Messi-Ronaldo is not close to winning the Ballon d’Or award.
Almost unchallenged, the one ahead of the crowd—the one buzzing about on social media, garnering so many votes to astonish award-giving France Football—is Karim Mustafa Benzema.
Leo, who once wore the number 44 jersey, dreamed of becoming the best striker in the world. The number 9 jersey was coveted. The ideal is Brazilian legend Ronaldo. In the words of Benzema, “I had fun with Ronaldo’s game. He is the best striker ever. Tried to copy it after watching his video. The work was not easy.
Not that he couldn’t, the one-touch finish in the box, the body-dodge to tear through the defense, the perfect aim – Benzema had all the qualities of a pure striker. Was—that is to say because those qualities are not what he no longer has. But rather than matching all the skills of a striker, Benzema has been seen more as a footballer, a ball player for a decade. Can be seen scoring, scoring, making plays, or sometimes cutting the ball. When Real Madrid is under pressure, the role is that of a leader, not just a striker – whose job it is to score goals.
The theater du Chatelet, where the Ballon d’Or is awarded in France, will see holding the Ballon d’Or trophy in Benzema’s hand today.
There is also a story of abandonment behind it. Both Benzema and Ronaldo joined Real in 2009. In the days when Ronaldo brought the star-light from Manchester United, the Portuguese star became skilled in scoring as a winger, so the calculation becomes clear—Ronaldo is ‘Batman’ in Real’s attack, and Benzema is his assistant ‘Robin’.
Then, even if he didn’t get rusty at that perfect target, just as he sometimes lost his aim due to lack of practice, the other side of the coin also became enlightened – making plays, and scoring goals. It cannot hide the truth. Benzema was covered in Ronaldo’s shadow. The light came on after the shadows had moved when it was almost twilight.
That’s it! Benzema was shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or in 2008 and 2009 but did not receive a single vote.
Never made it to the top three this time. After Ronaldo left Real in 2018, the picture gradually changed. In football parlance, Benzema started from outside the box. It can be said that it has to be done.
Real could not fill Ronaldo’s void. Curved kicks from the left end or the right end have to be taken regularly. Sometimes going in with one-twos, sometimes tearing through defenses with off-the-ball movement—in short, Real needed a ‘guardian angel’ in the words of Iker Casillas. Benzema settles for six.
At that time, everyone has forgotten one thing, Benzema came with the dream of becoming another ‘Ronaldo’ in this European football. But in the mentality of abandoning himself to the needs of the situation and the team, everyone is on the verge of forgetting his identity. The French star is not just a Real Madrid striker, a midfielder, or a winger—he is a lifer. But there is no position called ‘Pranabhomra’ in football.
Rodrigo has already said what is unwritten in Real Madrid. Do you know the best advice the Brazilian winger got from Benzema after joining Real in 2019? Listen to Rodrigo’s own mouth, ‘The ball will give me—it.’
That is, whatever the situation, Benzema doesn’t mind being Rudiger, Modric, Valverde, and Ronaldo whenever the team needs it. The desire to get the ball all the time says so! Want to play a role in any work? Let us see where this hunger took him.
Benzema top scorer; UEFA Player of the Season and Player of the Year.
In the 2021-22 season, Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 matches in addition to winning the Champions League and La Liga for Real. In his first 12 seasons at Real, he averaged 23 goals per season. Last season that increased almost twice! Real also won the Champions League for the first time since Ronaldo’s departure—with Benzema top scorer; UEFA Player of the Season and Player of the Year.
Interestingly, Benzema has given himself, in the midst of this transformation, a forgotten dream. A match-turning hat-trick in 17 minutes in the last sixteen return leg against PSG, a hat-trick against Chelsea in the quarter-final first leg, the winning goal in the return leg, and another 3 goals between the two legs of the semi-final — Benjamin took Real to the final.
And those moves and passes that changed the momentum of the match until the final – just as the striker wants to play a role in all the team’s matches by scoring goals, Benzema still sees himself in that role in his heart, so his work becomes useful when needed. Therefore, for the team’s needs, this 34-year-old is the oldest in the history of the Champions League to score a hat-trick.
Pichichi won his first career in La Liga last season – 27 goals in 32 matches. Many of these goals have turned the tide of the match. Benzema has proven himself not only for the club but also for France. The striker scored in France’s 2-1 win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League final on the night.
Ballon d’Or That is it! Tonight is Benzema’s night. A night in which the lamp of his sacrifice will light up with a proclamation.
Experts say that the turn of the Ballon d’Or will stop at Benzema’s door. As Lewandowski has said, “If the award is not canceled, Benzema should be given.” Any two of Arling Holland, Kylian Mbappe, and Mohamed Salah can be seen in two or three.
Two weeks before turning 35, when star players reckon with retirement, Benzema will reap the rewards of becoming the consummate footballer by sacrificing only his striking-ness, the global recognition of becoming Real’s leader. When Benzema entered Leo’s youth team at the age of 10, he may not have dreamed of it. Then he dreamed of becoming Ronaldo Nazario.
He was away from the national team for almost five and a half years due to the blackmail controversy. Standing up from the sand, Benzema has proven that you can come back!
How? A tweet from Real legend Iker Casillas last April illustrated that. To show how much Benzema is in Real Madrid, Cassius made an emotional tweet, ‘K9 (to Benzema wearing number 9 jersey) Spiderman. K9 Wolverine. K9 is your best friend. Who is your grandmother? K9 is the president of the United States. K9 is the guide with which you can parachute. Who is your Guardian Angel, Who is God!’
The last word is metaphorical. Benzema is flesh and blood. And people learn from mistakes. Adapting his skills to the situation, he is going to have the best night of his career today. When Benzema lifts the Ballon d’Or trophy in his 35-year twilight, he will be called a striker. However, this Benjamin is also an example for some in his personal life – even if his dream (to be a striker) is not fulfilled, he can adapt to the situation and rise to another height, where the best is recognized, and self-realization is met.