Karim Benzema was undoubtedly the best player on the planet last season, as a video compilation of his best bits for Real Madrid proves.
The Frenchman became the 26th man to be awarded the prize, since it was started by the outlet in 1956, and the fifth by the competition’s country of birth.
Benzema had been odds on favourite ever since he played an integral part in Real’s run to the Champions League final in May, where they beat Liverpool.
There’s been little doubt as to who would be taking home the golden ball this year since Real were crowned European champions for the 13th time in their history.
The Frenchman’s goals all the way up to the final were vitally important, as he helped them out of trouble in the last 16, quarter finals and semi finals.
That was followed up with another hat-trick vs Chelsea in the following round but his goal in extra time of the second leg was hugely important, after the Blues had looked likely to complete their own comeback.
Then in the semi final he scored a penalty in extra time again, this time against Manchester City, setting up the final in Paris vs Liverpool.
And the highlights of his season have been captured in a compilation video, which leaves his win in literally no doubt.
Before this season’s win, Benzema’s best performance had been at last year’s awards, when he was named fourth place, following a very obvious campaign by Real Madrid to get him the award.
In previous years he’d never broken into the top 10 and twice in the previous 10 years he’s actually not even been on the shortlist.
However, his goals in the Champions League were enough to win him the award and he actually scored 44 times in 46 appearances in all competitions.
As well as being crowned champions of Europe, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were also La Liga winners, finishing 13 points clear of fierce rivals Barcelona.
The Ballon d’Or changed to being won over a season, rather than a calendar year, for 2022, hence why the ceremony and voting took place before the World Cup.
Benzema celebrates after the Champions League final. Image: AlamyWhilst this year’s award has gone without controversy, that has not been the case in the past few years, even with Lionel Messi’s win last year coming in the wake of Argentina winning the Copa America.
Robert Lewandowski was essentially screwed out of a win in 2020, when France Football decided not run the award in the wake of Covid-19.
That was despite pretty much all the top tier competitions being finished, including Champions League and the ‘big five’ domestic leagues.
The Barcelona forward recently took a dig at the award, saying that Benzema was going to win the award, “as long as they don’t cancel it.”