It's Karim Benzema's time to shine after playing second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo for many years.
On Tuesday, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and manager Carlo Ancelotti faced the press ahead of the club's UEFA Champions League Group Stage opener against Inter Milan on Wednesday. During the discussion, Benzema admitted that just like every other professional footballer, he too dreams of winning the Ballon d'Or. The truth is, he has a good chance of winning it this season.
In the past decade, it has been difficult for any player to break through the stranglehold jointly established by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on the coveted prize. The two living legends have won the Ballon d'Or a whopping 11 times between them since 2008. However, Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric proved in 2018 that it is possible to outshine the pair.
In 2020, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowsky was the frontrunner, but the award itself was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. This year, Benzema knows that he has a good chance at snatching the prestigious trophy.
He has played a supporting role alongside Ronaldo during the nine years they spent together at Real Madrid. Since the Portuguese star's move to Juventus in 2018, Benzema has stepped up and has really taken on the lead role at the Santiago Benabeu.
This early in the 2021/22 season, the Frenchman has already scored five goals for Los Blancos, and currently leads the Pichichi tally. He says that he is not putting much pressure on himself, but admits that the Ballon d'Or is in his mind.
"[Winning the Ballon d'Or] does not make me lose any sleep, although it is a dream for every player," Benzema told the press.
"What I want is to help the team. Every player wants to win it and so do I," he added, making it clear that defending the badge is his top priority. The UEFA Champions League in particular is always a top priority for the club. Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition, with a record 13 titles. They always hold the event in high regard, and the player shares the same passion.
"For me, the Champions League is the top competition and it is the one with the most pressure. For me there are no favourites. On the pitch one thinks that one team will win and then another wins. We have a great team and we are going to fight for winning it," he said.
The club failed to sign Kylian Mbappe this summer, even with the player making it known that he wants to make the move away from PSG. Benzema openly admitted his desire to play alongside his compatriot at the club level, but he said that he is happy with the performance of Br azilian youngster Vinicius Jr., who has been in top form this season under the guidance of Ancelotti.
"He is scoring goals, but he helps us with other things, such as his speed. I have always been with him and I can help him more to succeed. I believe in him, he is a top player," said Benzema.
Real Madrid will face Inter Milan on Wednesday evening, in their opening Group D match at the San Siro.