LaLiga News: Benzema ‘could start tomorrow’ in search of second Ballon d’Or – Ancelotti

    Carlo Ancelotti has challenged Karim Benzema to bid for back-to-back Ballon d’Or awards when Real Madrid travel to Elche in La Liga on Wednesday.

    French striker Benzema won the most prestigious individual annual prize in world football on Monday, finishing ahead of Sadio Mane and Kevin de Bruyne.

    He was clearly a standout candidate after starring in – and often captaining – Real Madrid on their way to success in La Liga and the Champions League last season.

    The time frame for the award has changed from the gong of the calendar year to the one that is celebrated from August 1 to July 31.

    The new system will continue, so efforts at the start of the 2022-2023 season will count towards next year’s Ballon d’Or.

    Benzema has started this campaign steadily, certainly not as strong as Erling Haaland at Manchester City, whose goals could have caught his attention despite Norway failing to qualify for the World Cup.

    Now Ancelotti is urging Benzema to keep playing, speaking of his prize: “We are very happy. He said he was very proud of this award and thanked all his colleagues.

    “We have to think about the next Ballon d’Or. He can start tomorrow.”

    Ancelotti said he was “proud” of the 34-year-old, as well as Thibault Courtois, who won the best goalkeeper award and finished seventh in the main voting.

    Courtois wondered if the goalkeeper had a chance of winning the top prize. Lev Yashin in 1963 is the only goalkeeper to win the trophy.

    Speaking after the award, Courtois said: “It seems better to score a goal than to return it. This is a battle that has yet to be won. Given the logic of voting, I had no chance of placing very high and of course winning.”

    At the very least, Courtois could have joined Benzema in celebrating individual prizes, while Madrid received a surprise team award from Premier League champions Manchester City, who Real Madrid beat in the Champions League semi-final.

    Ancelotti, who won’t play in Elche without an injured Courtois, hailed Benzema’s transformation into the mascot of Spain’s capital giants.

    “He’s a player who has a lot more responsibility and feels like a leader a lot more than he did eight years ago,” Ancelotti said.

    “Technically it hasn’t changed much because its technical quality has remained the same. What has changed is his responsibility and his attitude.”

    Madrid are looking to follow their individual success with another away win by winning all five away games in La Liga this season.

    They are three points ahead of La Liga after winning Sunday’s Clasico.

    Elche meanwhile are unbeaten in their last 12 matches against Madrid in La Liga (D2 L10) since a 3-1 win in March 1978.

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