Two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo has backed his long-time pick Karim Benzema to win this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
The 34-year-old Real Madrid forward is enjoying his strongest campaign in front of goal. Heading into the final weeks of the 2021/22 season Benzema has bagged 24 goals across 27 matches in Spain’s top division which equals his best ever return.
Consequently, he’s leading the Pichichi race to be crowned as La Liga’s top scorer, elsewhere in European competition the Frenchman reached double figures something he’s never managed before when playing Champions League football.
Only ‘golden ball’ rival Robert Lewandowski and Sébastien Haller have registered more strikes though Benzemais still active with Bayern Munich and Ajax already eliminated. After registering a hat-trick in the quarter-final opening leg against Chelsea, his second consecutive treble, Benzema broke Blues hearts when he scored the decisive go-ahead goal in extra time.
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Having now bagged seven goals across his last three Champions League appearances Benzema has inserted himself into the Ballon d’Or spotlight. For the first time in many years neither Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are heavy favourites.
However, even when they were tipped for the prize former recipient Ronaldo has nominated his Real predecessor as a contender, something which led to derision, but now the former Brazil great believes he’s been vindicated.
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“Benzema deserves the Ballon d’Or, I’ve been saying it for years and getting criticised,” he told Sky Sports Italia.
“But he deserves it, he’s a great forward.”
Benzema has been previously nominated nine times and came in fourth in 2021 finishing behind Messi, Lewandowski and Jorginho.