Karim Benzema hat-trick bolsters Ballon d’Or arguments
The Real Madrid striker scored a hat-trick against Chelsea, his second in two Champions League matches to continue making his case for the Ballon d’Or.
Karim Benzema wants to win the Ballon d’Or, and his hat-trick tonight in the Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea (Chelsea 1-3 Real Madrid) sees him continue to set out his stall in 2022 for the award for the best individual footballer on the planet, which he is yet to win.
Benzema was on 2021 shortlist
Karim Benzema was on the Ballon d’Or shortlist last season, with Real Madrid pushing his credentials hard in the run-up to and during the voting period. The Frenchman however finished fourth, with 239 points, well behind Messi, who won his seventh trophy with 613 points. Lewandowski (580 points) and Jorginho (460) were second and third. That result itself was fairly controversial, with Messi having had a fairly poor season before he left Barcelona for PSG, and with Lewandowski widely felt to be a more deserving winner.
Half-way through the Ballon d’Or season
The Ballon d’Or used to be awarded for a player’s performances over a calendar year, rather than a season, however as of this edition the criteria has changed, so that the award will be based on performances in the entire 2021-22 season.
Benzema has been on fine form in LaLiga, scoring 24 and setting up 11, in 26 games, and add to that the fact he scored 5 goals in the Group Stage of the Champions League, and his campaign is purring along nicely.
However the reality is that performances in the later stages of the Champions League are some of the most compelling statements a player can make in their bid to land France Football’s prized trophy - Benzema’s hat-trick tonight against Chelsea is just such a statement, coming from two superb headers and a clever bit of pocket-picking as the Chelsea defence went into meltdown.
And it comes on the back of the Real Madrid’s striker’s 17-minute hat-trick in the second leg against PSG in the previous round which stunned the French side, who were cruising at that point, and saw them knocked out, leaving Real Madrid to progress to the quarterfinal against Chelsea.
Benzema needs Real Madrid to keep going in the Champions League
Decent domestic form, five goals in the group stage and two hat-tricks, in the Round of 16 and the quarterfinal, are a superb foundation for Benzema in his Ballon d’Or campaign, but would still not be enough to win it for him if things go wrong for the Ancelotti’s side and they fail to land trophies. The Ballon d’Or is an individual award, but the reality is it’s regularly awarded to the outstanding players in the teams that won the big prizes of the year. In the Champions League, Real Madrid will have to finish the job against Chelsea and likely make it to the final and better yet, win it, with Benzema continuing to play a part throughout the campaign, if he’s to be certain of landing the coveted award.
If that does happen, one thing Benzema can rest easy about is that the World Cup in Qatar in November and December will not count towards this edition of the Ballon d’Or, being included in the 2023 award instead, meaning a superb performance in that tournament from a player won’t affect who wins the 2022 trophy. If Benzema keeps up this rate of scoring and Real Madrid keep going, things will be looking golden for Benzema.