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Benzema warms up for the Ballon d’Or in Istanbul

At the age of 34, the Real Madrid striker will receive UEFA’s Player of the Year award - the first prestigious award of his career - two months before the Ballon d’Or gala.

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HELSINKI, FINLAND - AUGUST 10: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates the UEFA Super Cup trophy after the final whistle of the UEFA Super Cup Final 2022 between Real Madrid CF and Eintracht Frankfurt at Helsinki Olympic Stadium on August 10, 2022 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images )
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Karim Benzema is set for the first major recognition of in his career on Thursday, during the UEFA gala prior to the Champions League draw. At 34, the Real Madrid striker starts out as the undisputed favourite to win UEFA’s Player of the Year award. The 15 goals he scored in the Champions League and his incalculable role in winning the trophy for Madrid make him start out as the favourite against the other two candidates, Courtois and De Bruyne. Karim, in fact, will be in Istanbul to receive the award first-hand. Madrid’s other award winners are expected to join him - Courtois (best goalkeeper), Modric (best midfielder) and Ancelotti (best coach).

Benzema being voted the best footballer in Europe during last season is the prelude to what could happen in a couple of months in Paris at the Ballon d’Or gala. On Monday 17 October, the award will presented in the French capital and the forward Madrid is also the main candidate. Although there have been exceptions (for example last year, when Jorginho won the UEFA award and Messi, the Ballon d’Or), it is normally the case that the winner of one is also the winner of the other. Therefore, two busy months await Benzema, full of individual awards, before closing the year with the World Cup.

Coaches and journalists vote

Benzema was named the best player in last season’s Champions League according to the technical report drawn up by the Champions specialists and presumably he will also be named the best player of the past year by UEFA. The Player of the Year award is given to the player who polls the most votes cast by the coaches who participated in the European competitions and a panel of specialist journalists. None of them will overlook Karim’s brilliant contribution to winning the title.

After all of the successes he has enjoyed during his career at Real Madrid, Benzema is finally being recognised for his individual merits. Although he has been among the Ballon d’Or nominees nine times, he has never managed to make it onto the podium. The same goes for distinctions at club level in Europe and Spain. Until now, his most outstanding individual award was the Bravo Trophy for best young footballer, which he obtained in 2008. Almost 15 years later, UEFA and France Football (in charge of the Ballon d’Or) are finally giving Benzema recognition. The Istanbul gala will bear witness to that.