Benzema, Curtis, De Bruyne shortlisted for UEFA award

Karim Benzema and Alexia Potilas won the Ballon d’Or

PARIS (AP) – Karim Benzema won the men’s Ballon d’Or for the first time on Monday after a brilliant season that saw Real Madrid capped by the Champions League and Spanish league titles.

Benzema, 34, had his best season at Madrid, top scorer in both leagues. He scored 44 times with Madrid, including 15 in Europe’s top flight, and tied Raul González as the club’s second-highest goalscorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

Spanish player Alexia Putillas won the Women’s Trophy for the second year in a row after another fine season with Barcelona.

Benzema won ahead of Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.

Benzema succeeds Lionel Messi, who won the award for a record-extending seventh time last year, but was not among the nominees this time after his first season with Paris Saint-Germain.

This year, for the first time, the Ballon d’Or award was given based on the achievements of the previous season. It was previously awarded based on performance over calendar years.

The award by French football magazine has been given to men every year since 1956 when Stanley Mathews won. The Women’s Trophy was established in 2018, and both were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Benzema became the fifth French player to win the trophy after Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin and Zinedine Zidane, who won the World Cup for the first time in 1998.

Benzema was not part of the France squad that won the 2018 World Cup in Russia but, barring injury, will compete in the tournament in Qatar next month.

Almost six years after his involvement in the sex tape scandal, Benzema was recalled by France coach Didier Deschamps ahead of last year’s European Championship and has been playing regularly ever since.

Leading an attack that also included Vincenzo Jr. and Rodrigo, Benzema was instrumental last season in helping Madrid to a record 14th European Championship, and fifth since joining from Lyon in 2009. . The Frenchman was the top scorer of the tournament and was found. net when it really mattered, with 10 goals in the knockout stages.

Potelas scored 42 goals and provided 22 assists last season. She became the first actress to win the award twice.

With Barcelona, ​​she won the Spanish league and reached the Champions League final. She has been sidelined since July after injuring her left knee and undergoing surgery on the sidelines of the Women’s European Championship.

Putelas beat Arsenal and England teammate Bet Mead and Chelsea and Australia’s Sam Kerr for the award at the Paris ceremony. A group of international journalists selected the winners.

In other awards, 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder Goy was awarded the Copa Trophy’s best under-21 player award, while Robert Lewandowski won Gerd Müller’s striker of the year award.

The Leo Yashin Award for Best Goalkeeper went to Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois.

Ballon d’Or organizers have added a humanitarian award named after late Brazilian midfielder Socrates. The trophy went to Liverpool’s Sadio Mane for his charity work in Senegal including building a hospital and donating a school.

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