Real Madrid president describes Karim Benzema as a cross between Zidane and Ronaldo

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Benzema has been hailed by president Perez.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has launched a blistering defence of striker Karim Benzema after the player came in for criticism from former England striker Gary Lineker.

The ex-Tottenham, Leicester, Everton, and Barcelona striker had labelled Benzema “overrated” during Real Madrid’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the Champions League last week, a comment which drew criticism from Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, among others. Now the club president has joined the chorus defending Benzema.

“I don’t mind what Lineker said, I don’t care,” Perez said to El Partidazo de Cope. “What happens is that people judge Benzema just on the amount of goals he scores.

“I always say that Benzema is a cross between Zidane and Ronaldo Nazario. He scores goals like Ronaldo and has the touch of Zidane; he is a luxury.”

The Madrid president pointed to Benzema’s contribution to the team’s third goal against Eibar at the weekend.

“Against Eibar, he came on and provided us with a footballing masterpiece in the goal for Marcelo. After the game against Eibar, there are people who called me and said: But how can you criticise Benzema?”

Perez also recalled the outrageous piece of skill Benzema pulled off in the second-leg of last year’s Champions League semi-final to set up Isco’s goal against Atletico Madrid, a goal that sealed Madrid’s passage to the final.

“To those who believe that Benzema is a different type of player, I tell them to go and watch the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid and see the dribble that took three players away from the game, before providing the assist for Isco.”

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo crowned Men's Player of the Year winner at FIFA The Best Awards

Sport360 staff 24/10/2017

Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning last season saw him win the 2017 Best FIFA men’s player of the year trophy as Real Madrid dominated a star-studded awards ceremony in London on Monday.

The Portuguese ace, who has scored 44 goals in just 48 games for club and country so far this calendar year, played a major role in Real winning both La Liga and the Champions League.

He scored twice in a 4-1 win over Juventus in the continental final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on June 3.

Real boss Zinedine Zidane took the corresponding manager of the year award, with the Spanish giants providing five players in the FIFA team of the year.

Ronaldo won the inaugural Best FIFA men’s player of the year award last year following the end of a six-year merger between the FIFA honour and the Ballon D’Or.

This year he saw off competition from longstanding Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, with former Manchester United favourite Ronaldo receiving his trophy from Argentina great Diego Maradona and Brazil’s Ronaldo in a star-studded ceremony at the London Palladium theatre.

“Thanks a lot for voting for me,” said the Portuguese superstar.

“I mention Leo and Neymar, great to be here. Real Madrid supporters, my team-mates, my coach, they all support me all year.

“We are in England for the first time and I win consecutive awards,” he added. “I am really glad, this is a great moment for me. I have fans all over the world.”

Zidane won out ahead of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri to be crowned men’s coach of the year after becoming the first man to oversee a successful defence of the European Cup in the Champions League era.

“I’d like to thank all of the players for making this possible,” said Zidane. “This is a very special prize.”

Real’s superb campaign was recognised in a FIFA XI that featured Ronaldo and club-mates Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos.

The team was completed by goalkeeper of the year Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci, Dani Alves, Andres Iniesta, Messi and Neymar.

Veteran Juventus and Italy shot-stopper Buffon topped a three-strong shortlist for the goalkeeper award ahead of Real’s Keylor Navas and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.

“I have to speak in English, it is a difficult moment,” said the 39-year-old Buffon.

“It is a great honour to receive this award at my age. I am proud.

“The last year has been fantastic for Juventus and for me personally. It wasn’t enough to win in Europe.

“I would like to finish with a fantastic victory for Italy next summer (at the 2018 World Cup in Russia).”

Monday also saw the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2017 go to Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.

The France striker received the award named in honour of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas for a spectacular ‘scorpion-kick’ against Crystal Palace in January.

“I’m delighted to receive this trophy today in front of legends of football,” said Giroud.

The Frenchman’s flicked volley with his left foot that went in off the crossbar won ahead of goals from Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos, 18, and South African goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.

Meanwhile tournament hosts the Netherlands’ achievement in winning their first major female football title, the 2017 Women’s European Championship, was recognised with Women’s Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards for Sarina Wiegman and Lieke Martens respectively.

Wiegman and Martens were unable to receive their awards in London as the Netherlands are playing Norway on Tuesday.

The voting for the Best FIFA awards, equally weighted between national team captains, national team coaches, media and fans, closed last month.

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Cristiano Ronaldo will retire as one of the three best players ever, says Rio Ferdinand

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Ferdinand and Ronaldo are still close friends.

Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand is adamant former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo could play for another decade given the meticulous attention he pays to the physical side of the game.

The former Red Devils centre-back, who travelled to Madrid to interview Ronaldo at his home earlier this month for Nike, believes the Real Madrid icon still has plenty of years left in him at the highest level of the game – despite the fact he turns 33 in February.

Ferdinand lined up for six trophy-laden seasons with Ronaldo at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson – and knows better than most how the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner still remains close to the peak of his powers.

“When you speak to him you think he can play for another ten years, the way he talks about his future,” the 38-year-old told Sport360 at the launch of the 30-day Dubai Fitness Challenge.

“He’s so confident in himself because he doesn’t leave anything to chance, especially fitness. In his preparation work, he takes care of everything better than I’ve ever seen in football.

“To be so elite, stay there and be as good as he has for so long, you have to be serious with your lifestyle and fitness. He’s done that.”

While Ferdinand played with and against plenty of world-class talent in a stellar career which almost spanned two decades, he rates Ronaldo above anyone else and says the Whites No.7 is well in the debate over who is the greatest player of all time.

He said: “Cristiano will go down when he retires as one of the best three players to have ever played the game, he’s right up there. Of course he has natural talent but his work ethic matches many men.”

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