Benzema 'one of the most underrated players in history', claims UEFA President Ceferin

By Sports Desk May 07, 2022

Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema is "one of the most underrated players in history" according to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

Benzema has produced several incredible displays to fire Real Madrid to their 17th European Cup/Champions League final, scoring hat-tricks in last-16 and quarter-final ties with Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea, before netting three goals across a 6-5 aggregate win over Manchester City in the semi-finals.

The 34-year-old has been touted for the Ballon d'Or after scoring 43 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions for Los Blancos this term, with Carlo Ancelotti's team also wrapping up the LaLiga title last week.

The France international has scored 10 goals in the Champions League knockout stages, the joint-most recorded by a player in a single campaign, along with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016-17, also for Madrid.

Speaking to AS, Ceferin rejected suggestions Madrid had been fortunate in the competition this season, hailing the contributions of Benzema and midfielder Luka Modric and labelling the former "awesome".

"For me, one of the most underrated players in history is Benzema. He is an amazing player. And they have Luka Modric, who the older he gets, the better he plays," Ceferin said.

"Now [Benzema] is becoming more and more recognized. He has always been in someone's shadow. 

"It's amazing how this footballer can score goals. He finds a way, even when it seems impossible to score. He is an awesome player.

"We will have to ask them [Madrid] how it is possible. They are an experienced team. You could say that they have been a bit lucky in some matches, but you can only be lucky in one, not all."

After scoring an extra-time penalty to send Los Blancos to the May 28 final at City's expense, Benzema has scored seven Champions League goals against English teams this season, the most by a player in a single campaign in the competition's history.

He will have the opportunity to build on that record when Ancelotti's men face Liverpool in the final in Paris, and Ceferin believes the removal of the away goals rule has contributed to this Champions League season being one of the most exhilarating in recent history.

"That's the Champions League. The biggest football promotion and the best sports competition in the world," he added. "And when you watch these games… it's amazing. 

"I am happy that we have changed the away goals rule. When I told some of my team-mates that, they told me that there would be more penalty shoot-outs. 

"But it is not true and that is how it has been seen. The matches, in my opinion, are more interesting.

"The clubs in the Champions League are the best and playing away is almost the same as playing at home. I'm looking forward to the final."

Related items

  • Browns coach Kevin Stefanski calls situation with QB Deshaun Watson, RB Kareem Hunt 'normal' Browns coach Kevin Stefanski calls situation with QB Deshaun Watson, RB Kareem Hunt 'normal'

    A quarterback facing a suspension amid an NFL disciplinary case over sexual misconduct allegations and a running back demanding a trade after the team nixed his request for a long-term contract extension is all part of a normal training camp, as far as Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is concerned.

    After the Browns opened camp with QB Deshaun Watson being suspended for six games – which the NFL is appealing to seek a harsher penalty – running back Kareem Hunt sat out practices over the weekend while wanting a new deal. That request was denied, prompting Hunt to ask to be traded.

    There is no shortage of drama at the Browns' camp, but Stefanski believes it is par for the course.

    ''We are working, there is no distraction,'' Stefanski said on Sunday. ''I understand there are things that happen that certainly get attention, and that's OK... This is normal. This is NFL football, as far as I know.''

    Hunt, who is in the final year of a two-year, $13.25million extension, did return to practice on Sunday, while Watson continues to train and is currently available to play in Cleveland's pre-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday.

    "I would tell you, respectfully, we really do focus on what we can control,” Stefanski added. “I understand that there are things that happen that certainly get attention, and that is OK.

    "This is a great game. I know our fans love this game and follow every step along the way.

    "For us, we really are focused on trying to get better. We are not where we need to be, and we have a lot of work to do. That is what we are focusing on."

    Limited to just eight games in 2021 due to calf and ankle injuries, Hunt had 1,145 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns for the Browns in 2020, while appearing in all 16 games.

    Cleveland made the playoffs that season with Hunt and Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb forming a solid one-two punch.

    The NFL's rushing leader in 2017 with Kansas City, Hunt joined the Browns in 2019 but sat out the first eight games that season after being suspended for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy while playing for the Chiefs.

    Watson, who was acquired by Cleveland in March, was suspended for the first six games of the upcoming season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

    The league, however, is seeking a longer penalty after two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage treatments while he played for the Houston Texans.

  • Dortmund address Haller absence by signing Modeste Dortmund address Haller absence by signing Modeste

    Borussia Dortmund have completed the signing of experienced Bundesliga striker Anthony Modeste from Cologne for a reported fee of €5million.

    The 34-year-old has signed a one-year contract after it was revealed new arrival Sebastien Haller will miss a significant period due to being diagnosed with a testicular tumour last month.

    Haller had been signed as the replacement for Erling Haaland, who left for Manchester City earlier in the transfer window. 

    The former West Ham and Ajax striker underwent surgery in the first stage of his treatment, with Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl confirming Haller would be out "for a few months", but adding further treatment plans were still being discussed.

    On Sunday, Kehl confirmed Dortmund had reached an agreement with Cologne for Modeste, although he noted the move remained contingent on a medical being completed and personal terms agreed.

    With those formalities complete, the Frenchman is set to lead the line for the eight-time German champions in Haller's absence.

    Dortmund's new signing said: "I am very grateful to 1. FC Koln for the wonderful and successful time I had there. However, I have now decided to make a change.

    "The offer from BVB has given me a special chance to play in the Champions League at my age and to prove myself at the highest level. I am delighted about this opportunity and I promise that I will give everything for the success of the team and the club."

    Modeste has scored 83 goals in 190 Bundesliga games, spending two years at Hoffenheim before moving to Cologne for two spells either side of a short period in China and a brief time in France with Saint-Etienne.

    His knowledge of the league and aerial prowess will likely have been key reasons for Dortmund targeting him, with Modeste scoring eight headed goals in the first half of last season, the most by a player in the first half of a Bundesliga season since detailed data collection began in 2004-05.

    Dortmund won their first game of the Bundesliga campaign 1-0 against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday thanks to a Marco Reus goal, but did lose another new attacker Karim Adeyemi to injury in the first half at Signal Iduna Park.

     

  • Blow for Lampard as Everton confirm Godfrey out for 'around three months' Blow for Lampard as Everton confirm Godfrey out for 'around three months'

    Frank Lampard has been dealt a blow as Everton have confirmed Ben Godfrey will be out for "around three months".

    Godfrey was stretchered off just 18 minutes into the new Premier League season after a challenge with Chelsea's Kai Havertz at Goodison Park on Saturday.

    The Toffees went on to lose 1-0, with Jorginho scoring the only goal from the penalty spot, but Lampard's main concern after the game was his mounting injury list, as Yerry Mina also picked up a knock.

    Everton on Monday revealed that Godfrey had undergone successful surgery on a fractured fibula, but could not yet provide a length of absence for Mina, who suffered an ankle ligament injury.

    "Ben Godfrey underwent successful surgery this morning on the fractured fibula he sustained during Saturday's Premier League opener against Chelsea at Goodison Park," the statement read.

    "The defender will now begin rehabilitation at Finch Farm under the care of the club's medical team and is expected to be out for around three months.

    "Meanwhile, Yerry Mina sustained an ankle ligament injury in the second half of Saturday's match and will see a specialist this week to discover the full extent of the problem before undergoing treatment at Finch Farm."

    Lampard could be getting a defensive reinforcement before the trip to Aston Villa this weekend, with Conor Coady reportedly close to signing on a loan from Wolves.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.