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Figure of Karim Benzema long ago he reached the level of future legend of the Real Madrid. The French striker, who arrived in the capital at the age of 21 and turned 33 last Saturday, is one of those strikers who will remain in the history of the Merengue entity and European football. He has been proving it for years and, even more so, in the last three, being the great reference of the club of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Benzema has always known what his role was in the team. He has been climbing from the great promise he was when he signed in 2009 from the Lyon until the star and third captain of the team that is today. In between, already in his 30s, he had to make a conversion that few would be able to do: to be the best partner of Cristiano Ronaldo to take his place as leader of Real Madrid.
Of Benzema, over the years, many negative things have been said: he would not have continuity at Real Madrid, he would not connect with the fans, he would never have what it took to be the white ‘9’, he would sink without Cristiano next to him … It is dizzying to look back, review what was said and what Karim has ended up achieving. If expectations were never on your side, you ended up exceeding them all.
Hence, Benzema’s influence on current Madrid can be compared to that of Cristiano during the nine seasons he wore white. The numbers say it, in a Madrid undergoing reconstruction, Karim is the leader like Ronaldo was before. Although neither the team nor Benzema can reach what was Cristiano’s Madrid, no one doubts that the white striker, the ‘cat’ as he nicknamed him Jose Mourinho, knows how to pull the car.
Madrid’s scoring statistics fell with the departure of Cristiano, but Benzema has borne the burden going on target. After the departure of the Portuguese, the white team has registered 108 and 99 goals in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons, being 119 goals in 2009/2010, the first of Cristiano and Benzema in Madrid, the minimum to which came throughout the CR era. The goals have fallen and Karim (nor any other ‘9’) can reach the figures of the Portuguese, who reached 60 goals on two occasions (11/12 and 14/15).
33% to 27%
Cristiano scored 451 goals for Real Madrid out of the 1,358 that the team scored in total in the nine seasons he was there. Benzema, since Cristiano left, has scored 68, the last being this Sunday against Eibar. In two seasons and what we have of the current one, Madrid has scored 243 goals. The percentages are not very far from each other, Cristiano having been the author of 33% of Madrid’s goals in his time and Benzema, 27% since the ‘7’ signed for the Juventus.
Benzema, who was also always said to be a ’10’ and ended up being a ‘9.5’ with the ‘9’ on his back, reached (and exceeded) 30 goals with Madrid in one season playing alongside of Cristiano. In two full seasons without him he has signed his second (30 in 18/19) and his fourth (27 in 19/20) best all-time records for white.
Karim remains one of the team’s best assistants despite not having Cristiano as a partner. He adds 27 goal passes in his absence that increase his participation rate in Madrid’s goals to 39% since the summer of 2018. Cristiano, who despite being a lethal scorer added 132 assists, increases his percentage to 43% among goals and assists.
History of Real Madrid
Benzema got used to playing in the shadow of Cristiano, but he never stopped scoring or assisting. Last February he surpassed the Portuguese himself as the maximum assistant in the club’s history and with 260 goals he is the fifth highest scorer of the entity. Ahead you have Santillana (290), Of Stefano (308), Raul (323) and Cristiano Ronaldo, who of his 451 goals has more than one to thank Karim.
Does Benzema surpass Cristiano as leader in Real Madrid? It is difficult to give a statement like that, the numbers of the Frenchman being even lower than those of the Portuguese. It must be borne in mind that the Madrid of the Cristiano era and the Madrid of the Benzema era are different for what it means the loss of CR, but Karim has minimized the ‘damage’.
The team led by Zinedine Zidane has continued to be champion without Cristiano, with La Liga 2019/2020 being the most important title achieved. Benzema is indisputable for the French coach, who from the bench sees his compatriot as an extension of his way of understanding football. Real Madrid’s goal bears the signature of Karim, a shy French kid who went from ‘cat’ to lion 11 years ago and now makes a place for himself in the Olympus of merengue history. A full-blown leader.
[Más información – Se cumplen 10 años del “gato” de Mourinho a Benzema: de suplente a líder y estrella del Madrid]