Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has won the Champions League Player of the Season after winning his fifth title with Los Blancos, UEFA said on May 31 following the decision by its Technical Observer Panel. The Frenchman played a pivotal part in the knockout stages for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and also finished as the top goalscorer in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
The French superstar not only had probably the greatest individual Champions League campaign in his career, but he was also a major catalyst in Real Madrid’s 14th victory in the history of the tournament.
He hit double figures for Champions League goals in a single season for the first time in his career, finishing with 15 which earned him the top spot in the scoring charts. Benzema, who joined the club from Olympique Lyon back in 2009, also lifted his fifth Champions League trophy after the Spanish giants beat Liverpool 1-0 in the final thanks to Vinicius Jr’s goal.
The Brazilian who avoided Trent Alexander Arnold’s attention in the second half to put Real Madrid into the lead was also named as Champions League Young Player of the Season.
Remarkably, 10 of Benzema’s 15 goals arrived in the crucial and decisive knockout stages. It began with a hattrick against Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of the Round of 16 fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu. The 34-year-old found the back of the net thrice in the final 20 minutes of the competition to overturn the 2-0 deficit and seal his side’s progress to the quarter-finals.
In the first leg of the last 8 against Chelsea, he scored a hattrick once again at the Stamford Bridge. Benzema also scored the extra-time winner in the reverse leg in Madrid, where Ancelotti’s men seemed to be in trouble once again before turning the situation around in spectacular style.
The same script followed in the semi-finals against Premier League champions Manchester City. Benzema scored a brace in the first leg, but the Citizens were in cruise control in the second leg. However, Rodrygo came off the bench and scored twice in two minutes at the last stretches of the match to force extra-time, where the Frenchman converted his spot-kick in style once again.
Although Benzema did not add to his wonderful haul in the final, he now stands joint third with Robert Lewandowski in the all-time European Cup goals table, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.