Benzema beats De Bruyne and Courtois to UEFA Men's Player of the Year award

By Sports Desk August 25, 2022

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been named the 2021-22 UEFA Men's Player of the Year, beating team-mate Thibaut Courtois and Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to the gong.

The France international solidified his status as the frontrunner for this year's Ballon d'Or with victory over the pair, with the award bestowed following the Champions League group-stage draw in Istanbul on Thursday.

Benzema, top scorer in both the Champions League and LaLiga last term as he guided Madrid to a double, netted 44 goals in 46 games across all competitions.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti also was feted at the ceremony, beating Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp to be awarded the UEFA Men's Coach of the Year Award.

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    The Gunners lost 1-0 at the Allianz Arena as Joshua Kimmich’s second-half header was enough to seal a semi-final against Real Madrid with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

    It followed on from a 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa on Sunday that has dented Arsenal’s Premier League title chances.

    They travel to Wolves on Saturday evening needing a reaction to a poor week and Arteta feels his side will approach the game in the correct manner.

    Asked how painful the Champions League exit was, the Spaniard said: “It’s there.

    “It’s not going to go away, certainly tonight, but I can guarantee you by tomorrow we’re fully focused on Wolves and everybody is lifted.

    “What we still have to play for is beautiful. I said before it’s time to be next to these players.

    “It’s easy to be behind them and praise the players and talk nice things when we win 10 in a row and one draw.

    “The moment is now to be behind them and be next to them.”

    After a tight game in which Bayern also hit the woodwork twice and Gabriel Martinelli missed a glorious chance to put the away side ahead, Arteta said his side are continuing to learn after returning to the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

    “We haven’t played this competition for seven years and we haven’t been in this stage for 14 years,” he added.

    “There’s a reason for it. We want to do everything fast forward, super quick in one season. I think we have the capacity and the quality to be in the semi-final because the margins are very small.

    “Those margins are coming from something else that maybe we don’t have yet. We have to learn it. When you look historically it took other clubs seven, eight or 10 years to do it. Today that’s not going to make us feel better that’s for sure.”

    While Arsenal are still relatively inexperienced at this level, Bayern are now preparing for a ninth semi-final in the competition since the Gunners last made it that far.

    Manager Thomas Tuchel also becomes just the second man, after Jose Mourinho, to guide three different clubs to the final four and was pleased with the performance of the hosts.

    “It’s always better to play in front of your own fans,” he said.

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    “It was a chess game in the first half. Nobody wanted to make the first mistake. Everyone played a bit safe – there were moments for us, there were moments for Arsenal.

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    Tony Docherty strongly disagreed with Clement’s assertion that only one team deserved to win the game.

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    “I thought we went toe to toe with a really good Rangers team which has a huge motivation in the title race.

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    With the crowd energised, City stepped on the accelerator and De Bruyne sent a dipping shot narrowly over before skying an even better chance.

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    Haaland was sacrificed for extra time and Foden spurned a good chance when he mis-kicked in front of goal.

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