Real Madrid’s French star Karim Benezema deserves to win the Ballon d’Or, according to seven-time winner Lionel Messi. Benzema played a crucial role in Madrid’s Champions League victory this season, culminating in a 1-0 win over Liverpool in Paris on Saturday. Despite failing to score in the final, Benzema’s back-to-back hat-tricks in the round of 16, starting with a 17-minute hat-trick against Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain to overturn a 2-0 aggregate deficit , were crucial in generating the momentum that swept the Spaniards towards the title.
“There’s no doubt, it’s very clear that Benzema had a spectacular year and ended it by winning the Champions League,” Messi told Argentinian channel TyC Sports.
“He was crucial from the round of 16 in every game and I think there’s no doubt ‘Benzema deserves to win the Ballon d’Or.
Messi was speaking days before a friendly with Italy at Wembley Stadium between two continental champions.
The match between the South American Copa America holders and the European champions, where many Argentines trace their roots, is known as ‘Finalissima’.
But while Argentina stormed into Qatar’s World Cup qualification later this year with several games to spare, Italy surprisingly missed out after losing to minnows North Macedonia in a a blocade.
“What happened with Italy is crazy, after winning the Euros and not having participated in the World Cup, given Italy’s history in the World Cup”, a- he declared.
“If Italy had been at the World Cup, they would have been one of the favourites. They were unlucky. No one would have wanted to play them.”
After spending his entire career at Barcelona, the 34-year-old joined PSG a year ago where he struggled to replicate his best form.
He admitted it had been “a difficult change” and that on the first day he took his children to school in Paris he left “crying”.
Having caught Covid-19 at the end of 2021, Messi is convinced the virus left ‘scars’ in his lungs as he also admitted the Champions League capitulation to Real was ‘a blow’
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