Thierry Henry claims Ballon d’Or will be decided in Liverpool vs Real Madrid final
Klopp details half-time team talk after Liverpool come from behind at Villarreal
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Thierry Henry believes the destination of this year’s Ballon d’Or will be decided in the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid. Henry claims the two leading contenders for the award will be playing in the showpiece match in Paris on May 28.
Liverpool will face Real after both sides progressed from their semi-finals this week. Liverpool overcame a scare against Villarreal to win 5-2 on aggregate, whereas Real pulled off a memorable late comeback to beat Manchester City in extra-time at the Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema scored the winning goal from the penalty spot for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. It was the Frenchman’s 43rd goal in all competitions this season.
Henry is backing his countryman to win the Ballon d’Or for the first time this year. However, he believes Liverpool star Sadio Mane is also in contention.
Speaking on CBS Sports, Henry said: “The thing about the final and to make it even bigger, the two favourites for the golden ball, the Ballon d’Or are Mane and Benzema. So that will add an extra little spice into it.
“I still believe that Benzema is ahead but if Mane wins it with Liverpool and they do make the quadruple, that is a pretty strong case and it would be great for Africa. But I’m still going for Benzema.”
Benzema has helped Real win La Liga and can now add the Champions League to his success this season. But Mane can win an unprecedented quadruple with Liverpool and also won the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal in February.
Mane is Liverpool’s second-leading goalscorer this season with 21 strikes to his name, level with Diogo Jota. Mohamed Salah may also be pushing his name forward for the Ballon d’Or.
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The Egyptian has 30 goals this term and was crowned the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year last week. He is also favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award.
But former Aston Villa skipper Gabriel Agbonlahor believes Mane is ahead of his club team-mate. “We will probably look at Benzema and [Robert] Lewandowski, but I’m looking at Sadio Mane,” Agbonlahor told talkSPORT.
“”He’s won the Africa Cup of Nations, got a chance of winning the Premier League, has won the Carabao Cup and could win the FA Cup and Champions League and he’s scored a lot of goals this season. Sadio Mane winning the Africa Cup of Nations, I’d put him above Mo Salah as well.”
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