Playing second fiddle, that too aptly, in any task or sports isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but everyone isn’t Karim Mostafa Benzema. Benzema was able to do that for the majority of his career, and he did that remarkably well. Since the departure of Ronaldo from Real Madrid, he has stepped up and not only bettered his game but also the numbers on the pitch.
If you look up and look at his numbers for Real Madrid the past couple of years, then you’ll have nothing but praise and acknowledgment for the player that Benzema is. He may not be your typical number 9 Striker who hogs the box most of the time waiting for the chances to capitalize. Some may argue that he’s not as clean a Striker as someone like Lewandowski or Suarez, but he has still performed consistently on a world-class level, playing varying roles. Last season, Benzema got little to no help on the attacking front and yet single-handedly kept Real Madrid in the hunt for the titles, and is currently carrying the side with his stellar run of form.
10 on 9
He is a great technician with varied skill sets, which is why he is incredible even in the tightest of spaces. One can say he is a No.9, with the technical abilities and mindset of a No. 10. He is great in link-up plays, dropping deep and helping the team, involved in the build-up for the attack, and carrying the ball. He reads the game better than most, which allows him to generate chances for his teammates and also for himself with his clever movements. His understanding of football is very elite and his movements with and without the ball are a testament to that.
One may not realize the impact he has had on the game by just watching the scorecard or the highlight because he may not always feature in them. But he’s more than assists and goals and his peers from both club and country will testify to the pivotal role he plays to help his side be in control of most of the facets of their game.
Having said that, the numbers he has put up in the last couple of seasons have highlighted the talent and skills he always possessed. Benzema himself said that his style of play hasn’t changed much over the years; it’s just that he is taking more responsibility to feature in the score sheet one way or the other, more so since Cristiano bid adieu to Real Madrid.
Since the departure of CR7 from Madrid, Benzema has been the talisman for them with 21 goals and 6 assists in 2018/19, 21 goals and 8 assists in 2019/20, 23 goals and 9 assists in 2020/21, and currently boasts 12 goals and 7 assists in just 15 matches for the League toppers in La Liga. He previously breached the 15 goals’ mark thrice and 20 goals twice, before 2018/19. But he seems to enjoy added pressure and responsibility as the leader of the attack, and the results are there to see for everyone.
Peak of Powers
A veteran of 664 games, 333 goals, 141 assists for Real Madrid and Lyon, 64 games, 26 goals, and 12 assists for France, with 29 titles to his name, Benzema has already etched his name in the history books with golden letters. Playing at Real Madrid can be a double-edged sword, for the perks, it presents for success and also the backlash otherwise. Benzema has been in Madrid for 13 seasons now, worked with 7 different managers in various systems with numerous players, and not only survived but thrived exceedingly. He seems to get better with age, as seasons pass by. Soon to be 34, he seems hungrier and more eager to perform than ever.