Where does Karim Benzema rank among the 2022 Ballon d’Or contenders?

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Diego Souto/ Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Diego Souto/ Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich
Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) /

2. Robert Lewandowski (ST, Bayern Munich)

There isn’t a better goalscorer in the world at the moment. Lewandowski has pummeled goals left, right, and centre. He deserved the Ballon d’Or in 2020. He deserved it in 2021. He deserves the 2022 Ballon d’Or too. But, he’ll have to do in second place behind Karim Benzema. At least for now.

In 40 games, Lewandowski has scored an insane 46 goals. He is going to finish the season with more than 50 goals, unless (God forbid) he gets injured. Because the sort of form he is in, he might as well complete a half century of goals in the next game itself.

He is leading the goalscoring charts of both the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League, with 32 and 12 goals respectively. The sort of merciless finishing and clinical nature he has displayed have left me speechless. It would be a crime if this man finishes his career without a single Ballon d’Or.

1. Karim Benzema (ST, Real Madrid)

Before I say anything about Karim Benzema, I would like to apologize to all those who believe that Robert Lewandowski should be the frontrunner to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or. It was the toughest call for me to make, and Lewandowski would’ve been first on this list if not for Benzema’s hat-trick against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge.

Yes, that hattrick, as it stands, is what separates the two best players in the world at the moment. Benzema finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings in 2021. He had scored just 30 goals in 44 games in 2020-21. This season, he has been ruthless. He is producing the kind of numbers that Madridistas were used to seeing with Cristiano Ronaldo. In 36 games, Benzema has found the back of the net 37 times and racked up 13 assists.

That’s 50 goal contributions for Big Benz this season, on par with Robert Lewandowski (46 goals, 4 assists) and only behind his French compatriot Kylian Mbappé.

Alright, I will tell you all the list of things Benzema has achieved this season:

  • 50 goals + assists in all club competitions for the first time in his career
  • The only second player in history (alongside Cristiano Ronaldo) to score back-to-back Champions League knockout hattricks
  • 2021-22 is the season where Benzema has scored the most goals in a single season (37)
  • Most goals in a single Champions League campaign by the player (11)
  • Most league goals during a season by the player (24, the same as he scored in 2015-16)
  • The Frenchman with the most goals ever

Benzema has scored goals, agreed. But it’s the manner in which he is scoring his goals that sets him apart. Be it the two headers against Chelsea, or the third goal against PSG, Benzema has pulled off goals which very few could have pulled off. He has scored goals from the left foot, the right foot, the head, in the league, in the Champions League. In all major competitions, from all scoring parts of his body.

He is a complete footballer, and he was a complete player since a long, long time. The fact that he has set up 13 goals for his teammates in addition to all the goals he has scored showcases his playmaking skills, his underrated chance creation, and his incredible link-up play. Someone watching football for the first time wouldn’t be able to differentiate between midfielders and Karim Benzema.

Real Madrid are often toothless when Benzema doesn’t play. And when he does, Los Blancos are a completely different team. Just look at the 4-0 loss to Barcelona without Benzema and the 3-1 victories against PSG and Chelsea with Benzema. He not only brings balance to the side, but elevates those around him (re: Vinícius Júnior).

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Karim Benzema absolutely deserves to win the Ballon d’Or in 2022. He is carrying Los Blancos on his shoulders and to imagine a team without the No.9 is an unpleasant thought.