We are less than a day away before the Lusail Stadium draws its curtains for the 2022 FIFA World Cup final between Argentina and France.
This will be the final chance for Lionel Messi to win the coveted title that has eluded him all his career.
Heading into this exciting affair, L’Equipe (h/t Le10 Sport) has put out an insightful piece, where it has been claimed that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar is a huge admirer of two French players.
The players in question are Real Madrid icons Karim Benzema and Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane is widely celebrated as one of the best French players to ever grace football and famously helped France secure the 1998 World Cup title. Benzema has also won plaudits for his consistent performances at Real Madrid. It was he who helped the Merengues secure the UEFA Champions League title last season.
Benzema even won the Ballon d’Or award earlier this year and was expected to play a central figure in France’s attacking unit in the World Cup. However, shortly before the tournament kickstarted, the forward picked up an injury that ruled him out of the competition.
France, though, have done extremely well even without their talismanic goalscorer, especially with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann stepping up to the plate, while Benzema’s Real Madrid teammate Aurelien Tchouameni has become a key part of the team.
As for Benzema, he has worked his way back to full fitness and will be available for Real Madrid when the season restarts at the end of the month.
The report suggests Messi admires and respects Real Madrid striker Benzema and former manager Zidane very much due to their footballing abilities. It is also claimed that the 35-year-old Argentina captain felt that Benzema deserved his Ballon d’Or award this year.
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.