Benzema-Lewandowski, the jewels of the clasico

Karim Benzema is about to receive the Ballon d’Or on Monday, Robert Lewandowski is already top scorer in Spain: two of the best center-forwards in the world face off on Sunday (4:15 p.m.) in the clasico between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona , to lift their team to the top of La Liga.

Exit Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. From now on, the jewels of the clasico are them: both finalists for the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded on Monday (and which seems promised to Benzema), “Lewy” and “KB9” embody the return to power of the club match on most watched on the planet (650 million viewers expected).

If it had lost its luster since the departures of Messi and “CR7”, and the multiple crises of the Catalan club, the last edition, won in March 4-0 by surprise by the Blaugranas in the absence of Benzema on the Merengue side, helped rekindle interest and reinvigorate the rivalry between the two giants of Spanish football.

Benzema, an eternity

On Sunday, the French international center-forward will be there. Opposite, his Polish counterpart too. An enticing match within the match for this 250th clasico in history (excluding friendly matches).

After missing most of September due to a right thigh injury contracted against Celtic Glasgow in the Champions League, Benzema was saved against Getafe last weekend (1-0 success).

“I felt it much better this week. (…) I am convinced that tomorrow (Sunday, editor’s note), we will see the always Karim “at the Bernabeu, assured Ancelotti on Saturday at a press conference.

Silent on Tuesday during the 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw, the former Lyonnais has not scored since his double on the field of Espanyol Barcelona (2-1) on August 28.

An eternity for the 34-year-old goleador, who finished top scorer (27) and 2nd best passer in La Liga (12) last year, enough to help make him the big favorite for the Ballon d’Or.

“If they don’t cancel it, he will probably win (it),” smiled Lewandowski… who still hasn’t digested the cancellation of the 2020 edition which seemed to him promised then his second place behind Lionel Messi last year.

“Lewy”, the graft took

The Pole, also 34, who arrived in Catalonia this summer from Bayern Munich for four years and 45 million euros, has in any case perfectly successfully integrated into Barcelona.

After 12 matches in all competitions, the reigning double Golden Shoe (top European scorer) is already at 14 goals and two assists, and he exceeds the total of the top Blaugrana scorers of last season (Depay and Aubameyang, 13 goals).

And Lewandowski also approaches this vengeful clasico, the knife between his teeth: despite his double at the end of the match against Inter Milan on Wednesday, “Lewy” was not enough to snatch the victory (3-3). Result: for the second consecutive season, Barça finds itself on the verge of elimination in the Champions League from the group stage.

To dispel doubts, the defense, in the first place, is completely to be reviewed. In this area, Xavi can count on Jules Koundé, income “100%” according to the technician. Hector Bellerin has also resumed training with the ball, but is not guaranteed to play.

This clasico will still be marked by absences: on the Barça side, Ronaldo Araujo and Andreas Christensen are still in the infirmary. Memphis Depay has resumed training but seems a bit tight. On the Real side, it is the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who is forfeited (sciatica).

So, advantage Benzema or Lewandowski? A victory would launch the winner perfectly on the road to the World Cup in Qatar (November 20-December 18). It would also clear the way for their team: still undefeated in La Liga, Barça and Real are currently tied with 22 points, already far ahead of the competition (Athletic Bilbao, 3rd, is five points away).

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