Lewandowski and Benzema both deserve Ballon d'Or – Upamecano weighs into debate

By Sports Desk October 19, 2021

Bayern Munich defender Dayot Upamecano said Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema are both worthy of this year's Ballon d'Or.

Lewandowski and Benzema are among the nominees for football's most prestigious individual award – the 30-man shortlist will be whittled down to just three players.

Upamecano is team-mates with Lewandowski at Bundesliga champions Bayern, while he also plays alongside Benzema for World Cup and Nations League holders France.

Asked about Lewandowski and Benzema ahead of Bayern's Champions League fixture with Benfica on Wednesday, Upamecano replied: "Very good question!

"Lewandowski or Benzema, both of them deserve it [Ballon d'Or]. They are the two best strikers in the world. They prove it year after year.

"If Lewandowski wins, I would be very happy for him because he is my team-mate at Bayern. If Benzema wins, I also would be very happy for him."

Prior to Madrid's 5-0 rout of Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, Benzema had been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (76) than any other player in the Champions League.

In this same period, Lionel Messi (12) was the only player who had recorded more multi-shot involvements than Benzema (10), which captures all instances of sequences where a player is both involved in the build-up and takes the shot.

Meanwhile, Lewandowski has scored five goals in six Champions League appearances against Portuguese opponents, including three against Benfica – no player has ever scored more times against sides from Portugal in the competition.

Bayern are on a record unbeaten run of 19 matches away from home in Champions League (W15 D4), netting 54 goals during this streak since losing 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017. Over a third of their goals in this unbeaten run have been scored by their Lewandowski (19 – 35 per cent).

German giants Bayern's eight unbeaten matches against Benfica in the European Cup/Champions League (W5 D3) is the joint-most by a team against an opponent since the tournament began in 1955 – Bayern versus Spartak Moscow (W5 D3) and Barcelona versus Lyon (W5 D3) have also faced eight times without ever losing.

Since the start of last season, Bayern have averaged more goals (3.2) and have a higher expected goals tally (2.6) per game than any other team in the Champions League. Among teams involved in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 tournaments, they also have the highest shot conversion rate in this period (18.3 per cent).

Related items

  • Rodgers says Packers' 9-3 run has defied expectations amid adversity Rodgers says Packers' 9-3 run has defied expectations amid adversity

    Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers says the Green Bay Packers have defied expectations amid more injuries than ever, meaning their 9-3 record "feels pretty good".

    The Packers are top in the NFC North ahead of their Week 13 bye where Rodgers, who has thrown 2,878 yards for 23 touchdowns this season, will get the chance to rest a niggling toe issue.

    Green Bay's impressive run has come amid injury issues to cornerback Jaire Alexander, center Josh Myers, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, while star wide receiver Davante Adams tested positive to COVID-19 last month.

    "I think we've been dealing with as many injuries as we've had throughout the years," Rodgers said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee show. "A lot of important players, starters on IR, no chance to return and some with a chance.

    "Bakhtiari obviously had an opportunity, not sure when that will do. Jaire, hoping him. Za'Darius who knows? Josh Myers up in the air.

    "There's a lot of those and then you have the weekly injuries we've had with Kevin King and Aaron Jones. [The bye] definitely comes at a good time.

    "For us to be 9-3, not many people expected that looking at our schedule and what we've dealt with this year with Davante being out with COVID and all the injuries up front and on the defensive side of the ball, that feels pretty good."

    Rodgers has been in the thick of the news, with his immunisation revelation before testing positive to COVID-19, along with his tongue-in-cheek remark about "COVID toe", all the while his side have claimed good wins against the likes of the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

    "It hasn’t been a quiet 12 weeks," he added. "I'm very happy with where we're at. Very happy to have gotten off to the star that we've gotten off to. Happy we've faced some adversity and we're moving through it and close to the other side of it."

    The Packers defeated the Rams 36-28 on Sunday, with Rodgers throwing two touchdown passes, as well as completing one rushing TD.

    Adams, who has five touchdowns for the season including two in Week 11 in the 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, had eight receptions against the Rams for 104 yards but no touchdowns.

    "He has a lot of freedom which he should because he has such a great release pattern and he's such a smart guy," Rodgers said about Adams. "It's not like he's going outside the schematic things but he's making decisions that might not be the expected paper decisions, when you’re looking at it on paper.

    "There's paper routes and there's do-whatever-you-want routes for Davante. He did it last week against Minnesota on the second touchdown, he ad-libbed that route, that's why I was a bit late getting to him.

    "Normally I have a pretty good sense. You've got to read body movements. Also our conversations are very high level when it comes to those situations."

  • Reggae Boy defender Mariappa seals move to Australia A-League club Macarthur FC Reggae Boy defender Mariappa seals move to Australia A-League club Macarthur FC

    Jamaica international Adrian Mariappa has secured a surprise move to Australia Super League club Macarthur FC.

    The 35-year-old defender had been without a club since May of this year, after being released by English Championship club Bristol City.  The player had, however, continued to show strong form with his country’s national team, playing in 6 games.

    Mariappa was linked with a move back to England with Sheffield Wednesday, who are coached by another former Jamaica international Darren Moore.  The club reportedly offered the out-of-contract player a deal, but he opted for the Super League move instead.

    For his part, Mariappa insists he is excited and looking forward to the new challenge.

    “I want to thank the owners and the football staff for having faith in me and making this happen,” Mariappa said.

    “When the opportunity to join the Bulls arrived, it was one I couldn’t turn down. It’s an exciting new challenge for me in my career and that for me is what I thrive off,” he added.

    “I’m hungry to achieve great things with the club and create new memories with the team and the fans.”

    Macarthur have won one and drawn one of their two games so far in the 2021/22 season.

  • LeBron set to miss several games after entering NBA's health and safety protocols LeBron set to miss several games after entering NBA's health and safety protocols

    Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James has entered the league's health and safety protocols.

    The 36-year-old was set to line up for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday but was ruled out ahead of tip-off.

    James is likely to be out for several games, having already missed 11 of the Lakers' 22 games this season with ankle and abdominal injuries along with a one-game suspension.

    The NBA mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation away from a player's team if they have tested positive to COVID-19, before mandatory cardiac screening and reconditioning to be cleared to return. James confirmed in September that he has been vaccinated from COVID-19.

    The Lakers, who are 11-11 across the 2021-22 NBA season, are 4-7 without James in the team this campaign.

    James is averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game from 11 games this season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.