The Ballon d’Or was originally won by Karim Benzema, who had a breakout season with Real Madrid in 2022.
In 2021–2022, the French forward excelled and helped Los Blancos win both the national and continental championships.
With a goal per 66.4 minutes, Benzema contributed to 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 appearances for Madrid across all competitions as the squad won La Liga and another UEFA Champions League title.
His performance in the Champions League in particular has solidified him as a deserving Ballon d’Or winner for 2022. The 34-year-old scored 15 goals in that one competition, 10 of which came only in the knockout rounds.
Among the highlights of that Champions League season were Benzema’s spectacular hat-trick against PSG, which enabled his club to pull off a remarkable comeback victory, and a couple pivotal goals against Manchester City in the quarterfinal.
Benzema is the first French player to win the Ballon d’Or since Zidane in 1998, joining Michel Platini, Jean-Pierre Papin, Raymond Kopa, and Zinedine Zidane as French winners overall.