There was more than just European glory up for grabs on Saturday night in Paris, with the showpiece between Real and Liverpool also billed as a match which would crown the best player in the world.
Benzema had equalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of most knockout goals in the Champions League en route to the final, dragging Real past PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City in scarcely believable fashion.
But Mohamed Salah – the Premier League’s golden boot winner and leading assister – enjoyed a superb individual campaign while Sadio Mane had excelled for Senegal, winning the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tweeting before the match, Fabregas summed up the state of play saying: ‘Not a big fan of individual trophies like that but surely the Ballon d’Or could/should be decided tonight? Mane? Salah? Benzema?’
At the Stade de France, however, none of that trio managed to get on the scoresheet, with Mane and Salah denied goals by wonderful saves from Thibaut Courtois in the first and second halves respectively.
The Belgian shot-stopper made nine saves on Saturday night, the most in a Champions League final, and made 55 saves across Real’s 13 matches in the competition – only two less than Manchester City’s Ederson made in the entire Premier League season.
Man of the Match Courtois’ performance was so good, in fact, that Fabregas felt it had catapulted him into contention to win the Ballon d’Or.
Revising his earlier tweet, he wrote: ‘I would add and most probably give it to Courtois. Insane season.’
Fabregas’ old Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry disagreed, however, and still felt Benzema deserved to land the Ballon d’Or even though he did not get on the scoresheet.
Speaking on CBS Sports, the Frenchman said: ‘I just wanted to say something to [French publication] France Football or whoever is voting [on the Ballon d’Or]: Close the votes, Benzema won it. Bye.’
Benzema thought he had scored shortly before half-time but his effort was ruled out for offside, ending the season with 15 goals in the Champions League – just two shy of the record.
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