Karim Benzema continued his exceptional form as he scored his second Champions League hat-trick this year to fire Real Madrid to a 3-1 win over Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-finals tie. The French international is now being tipped by many football pundits as the leading candidate to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
Los Blancos started as underdogs against the Premier League giants but the French international pulled up his best game at Stamford Bridge. But a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge gives them a decent cushion to take into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeau.
Benzema is now the second player after former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to score two hat-tricks in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The French international has 11 goals in UCL this season, 24 in La Liga and two in the Spanish Super Copa.
Benzema finished fourth in the last Ballon d’Or as PSG superstar Lionel Messi won his seventh award. The French striker has been a key figure in Real Madrid’s sheer domination in La Liga this season.
Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believe Benzema will win the the Ballon d’Or this year.
Speaking to BT Sport, former Chelsea player Joe Cole said:
“He is getting better with age. As things stand right now in the race for the Ballon d’Or he has won it by a few furlongs. It is unbelievable that in this stage of his career he has gone: ‘I am in charge of the orchestra now, everything goes through me’. He is an outstanding footballer.”
Dominated and beaten by Real Madrid and Brentford, Chelsea go out of form during their season’s most crucial time
The uncertainties surrounding Chelsea’s future have started showing in the team’s on-field performances. After Brentford thumped the Premier League giants 4-1 last weekend, Real Madrid inflicted a humiliating 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge in the UCL.
As the 2021-22 season inches closer to the end, the Blues seem to have hit a bad patch of form. The defending champions are close to a quarterfinal exit but might finish in the Premier League top four, thanks to their superlative performances earlier this season.