Karim Benzema: Is Real Madrid player the most underrated striker in Europe?
“He’s one of the most underrated players in the world.”
The pitch at the Bernabeu will probably be full of star players into Edinson Cavani – plus potentially Gareth Bale – when Real Madrid host Paris St-Germain at the Champions League.
However, that pre-game assessment by PSG manager Thomas Tuchel was not any of those much-hyped superstars.
It was about striker Karim Benzema.
In 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Real for a #80m fee from Manchester United and Benzema has been approached to replace him.
The France forward rejected the move as he joined the Spanish giants from Lyon for # 30m, instead the two became team-mates.
A few years on, having been called”a tad overrated” from ex-England striker Gary Lineker, how has Benzema outlasted Ronaldo and lots of others at the Bernabeu and is his ability – and endurance – overlooked?
At some time when Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Ronaldo have taken the sport to new levels with their figures as they fought for supremacy, the particular records of Benzema have flown under the radar.
Actual know success over PSG will aspire to gain payback for the 3-0 defeat and will ensure a spot.
Nevertheless, it was within their past European game – a 6-0 thrashing of Galatasaray – in which Benzema, according to manager Zinedine Zidane, did something”amazing”.
His two goals supposed he became only the second player to score in 15 Champions League attempts after Messi – Ronaldo hasn’t yet achieved the effort as he failed to score in the 2005-06 period in the group point for United.
Reaching the milestone of 50 targets saw him ravaged Real’s mythical striker Alfredo di Stefano in Europe, while just the two usual suspects – Ronaldo and Messi – and Robert Lewandowski (59) have scored more than Benzema from the Champions League since 2009.
Only three days after, a double against Eibar in La Liga chose on the one time list of Real scorers, overtaking the other legend in Ferenc Puskas, also with 234 strikes he also became the highest-scoring Frenchman in an overseas club – exceeding Thierry Henry’s album at Arsenal.
Benzema has won four three Uefa Super Cups, two La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, Champions Leagues and four Fifa Club World Cups at his time in the club.
Manuel Pellegrini, Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafael Benitez, Zidane (double ), Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari have all come and gone while he’s remained constant.
On the pitch he has seen off competition although big-money summertime signing Luka Jovic can’t get a look at, netting once this effort.
Benzema, is La Liga’s top scorer with 10 goals that season and instead, continues to lead the lineup that is true; Messi at Spain betters only his overall of 25 strikes in 2019.
A senior team supply reportedly said in April,”they’ve been criticising him for a decade and he is the greatest”, while in September Benzema topped a Marca survey of most underrated players.
“I think the lack of admiration for his talents does reach him,” states World Service Sport’s John Bennett. “Back in January,” L’Equipe published their listing of 15 strikers for the 2018 World XI.
“Benzema was nowhere to be observed and that he took to social websites, writing’hello L’Equipe, my friends. Can I 16th?’ . Sadly off-field controversies will likely mean he gets the credit he deserves, surely in France.”
Benzema has been a constant source of intentions for his Real team-mates since joining in 2009 as well as finding the web on a normal basis.
Throughout this period, only Messi (140), Ronaldo (96) and Luis Suarez (84) have put more goals in Europe’s top five leagues than the 76 Benzema has.
“Benzema has been extremely popular with managers and with fellow players in Real Madrid for getting the most out of his own team-mates,” adds Bennett.
“You don’t get many top strikers who are famous for being unselfish but Benzema is among these. He’s a real team player.
“The Frenchman played a enormous role in Ronaldo’s success in the Bernabeu, providing him more assists in La Liga than any other Real Madrid player.
“His goalscoring record also stands up to examination. He also scored 30 goals last year in all competitions, a number he bettered at Real Madrid although yes there have been times.
“Benzema works tougher than he is given credit to get on and off the pitch. You do not reach his levels of consistency with no incredible fitness and never living your life straight off the pitch.”
He also stays conspicuous by his absence from the France squad despite his record in club level putting him among the elite of Europe.
Benzema has netted more league goals than compatriots Antoine Griezmann and Alexandre Lacazette, as well as Olivier Giroud, that played at the 2018 World Cup but failed to score.
He has not played at 2015, a situation that was later dropped for the team as a sex tape scandal, a couple of decades 36, but he missed the World Cup triumph along with Euro 2016.
During this month’s international break the president of the French Football Federation Noel Le Graet indicated there was no way back by stating though Benzema has been”a very great player”that the”adventure is over”.
Bennett adds:”His final France match premiered in October 2015 however his name still comes up throughout each worldwide break, with lots of pundits in the nation rueing that he could no longer play for the team.
“It might be well worth recalling he had been criticised towards the conclusion of his time in a France shirt for not playing too for his nation as he was for his club but few would argue that if it was not for the scandal he would be starting ahead of Giroud.
“He’d also have a World Cup winner’s trophy in his trophy cabinet.”