La Liga’s Real Madrid and Barcelona have been at the forefront of international success at the club level for a number of decades – and as a result – many of their players have had some of the world’s top individual accolades bestowed upon them. There’s no bigger prize than the Ballon d’Or, which recognises the best male and female player in world football from the previous season – and to no-one’s surprise, particularly those who bet on football, Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona have taken out both awards.
Read on as we dissect who finished first, second and third in the voting in both the men’s and women’s Ballon d’Or.
Men’s Ballon d’Or
Winner – Karim Benzema
Tallying 44 goals in 46 games en route to both the Spanish La Liga and Champions League titles, 34-year-old Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema became the oldest Ballon d’Or winner since Stanley Matthews in 1956. The Frenchman was particularly impressive in his side’s Champions League campaign, managing to find the back of the net on 15 occasions throughout the tournament. No goal was more important than his 95th minute winner in the semi-final against Manchester City.
In what was a stunning comeback, Benzema’s late game heroics booked their spot in the final against Liverpool, which they would ultimately go on to win 1-0.
Runner-up – Sadio Mane
When you take a look at how Liverpool is performing in the early stages of the 2022/23 season, it is clear they are missing the speed, vision and forward-thinking approach of their former forward Sadio Mane. With 23 goals and five assists across the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup competitions in 2021/22, Mane provided further proof as to why he’s considered one of the best players in the game today.
Now in his first season with Bayern Munich, Mane’s impact has been solid – notching up seven goals in 14 Bundesliga and Champions League appearances.
Third – Kevin De Bruyne
In yet another stellar season, Manchester City’s midfielder Kevin De Bruyne was exceptional as he scored 19 goals and contributed 14 assists across Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup appearances. It appears as though he’s carried that rich vein of form into the 2022/23, with the Belgian international on track to beat his previous joint assist record of 20 in a Premier League season, with him currently having registered nine assists in ten games at the time of writing.
Women’s Ballon d’Or
Winner – Alexia Putellas
Barcelona and Spanish international star Alexia Putellas created history at this year’s ceremony, becoming the first woman to win back-to-back Ballon d’Ors. Despite missing Euro 2022 with an ACL injury, Putella’s performances for Barcelona were exceptional, netting 18 league goals and 15 assists to help the Catalan club secure to their third consecutive Liga F title.
Additionally, Putellas was the Champions League’s top scorer with 11 goals.
Runner-up – Beth Mead
You could make the argument that Beth Mead was unlucky to finish second in the voting, with the Arsenal player having a superb club season that included 14 goals and 19 assists from 40 appearances. Couple that with her triumph at Euro 22, and there’s no doubting that Mead has been one of, if not the best female player of the last 12 months.
Third – Sam Kerr
Finishing third in the voting in back-to-back Ballon d’Or ceremonies, Chelsea’s Sam Kerr showed her knack for goal yet again in 2022, scoring 20 goals in 20 appearances in the WSL en route to a league title. Couple that with another nine goals in 11 games in all other competitions, and the Australian international has proven over the past four years that she is arguably the most talented female player in the world in front of goal.
If she can continue the domestic and international form she has displayed in recent years – don’t be surprised if she becomes a Ballon d’Or winner in the near future.
Published by Samantha Brown