“From Feline to Ferocious: The Transformative Tale of Karim Benzema”

Over the past two seasons, it has become clear that Karim Benzema has stepped out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow to become the true leader of Real Madrid, demonstrating impressive stability. When he first joined in 2010, Jose Mourinho made a sarcastic comment about his hunting abilities, which affected the player’s self-esteem. Despite transfer rumors over the years, Benzema has remained at Real and proved himself as a talented and consistent goal-scorer, especially after Ronaldo’s departure in 2018. He has earned the recognition and respect he deserves as a top player at the club.

Benzema was still struggling to gain a foothold in the attack, when Mourinho was still in position at Real.  Photo: EFE.

Despite his passion for fashion, luxury goods, and supercars showcased on his Instagram, Benzema struggled to showcase his personality on the field during Mourinho’s tenure at Real Madrid. While playing alongside Ronaldo and Bale in the famous BBC trio, Benzema often appeared overshadowed and humble compared to his teammates. However, he played a crucial role in linking the team’s attack together and creating space for his teammates to score. Despite critics questioning his abilities, Zidane defended Benzema, stating that he is the best striker in the world and contributes to the team’s overall success, even if he doesn’t score 50 or 60 goals like some expect.

During Ronaldo's nine years at Real Madrid, Benzema was always happy with the task of creating space for his fellow superstar goal scorer.  Photo: Reuters.

During his time at Real Madrid, Benzema was content with creating space for his teammates to score goals, especially Ronaldo and Bale. Zidane praised Benzema’s ability to “clear the way” for his partners, as he moved intelligently and attracted defenders. His skills in building walls, keeping the ball, and connecting routes were highly appreciated by both Zidane and Ancelotti. Despite frequent criticism regarding his scoring ability and personal life, Benzema remains focused on playing football for those who understand the value of what he does on the field. After Ronaldo left in 2018, Benzema was given the opportunity to lead Real’s attack, and he has since been competing for the top scorer title with Messi. However, Benzema is not given priority to take penalty kicks, as captain Sergio Ramos stands in front of the penalty spot in important moments. Regardless, Benzema prioritizes winning championships and brings more than just goals to the team.

In addition to his goal-scoring talent, Benzema also demonstrated his talent in development.  In the photo is his heel strike as if he had eyes behind him, setting the stage for Casemiro to shoot down Espanyol.  Photo: AP.

Apart from his exceptional goal-scoring abilities, Benzema has also displayed his skill in creating opportunities. In a photo, he can be seen executing a heel strike that sets up Casemiro to take down Espanyol. This move is a testament to Benzema’s description of himself as a “number 9 with soul number 10”. Such a player could not have sustained a decade in a top-tier football club like Real without unrivaled talent. He is ranked fifth in the team’s history with 248 goals in 512 matches, achieving an efficiency of 0.48 goals per match, overtaking stars such as Ferenc Puskas, Hugo Sanchez, and Ronaldo. In February 2020, he surpassed Ronaldo’s record of 131 goals to become the top assister in Real Madrid history with 135 assists, which is impressive for a striker. These achievements, combined with Real’s successes, make him a legend in the team. He has accepted playing second fiddle to Ronaldo for so long that he is genuinely acknowledged. Benzema stepped up to lead the attack when Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio, Vinicius, and Rodrygo were out due to injuries, and Luka Jovic, Bale, James Rodriguez, and Mariano were not up to par. He made an arrogant comparison of himself to Olivier Giroud, saying, “We should not confuse a Formula 1 car like me with a go-kart.” This statement was mixed with bitterness because Giroud won the World Cup, although his talent was rated lower than Benzema’s. Benzema’s only regret is his lack of success at the team level. Despite being a part of France’s quality teams that reached the Euro 2016 final and won the 2018 World Cup, he had to sit at home due to a blackmail case with former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. As long as Didier Deschamps remains the coach, there is no possibility of him returning to the French national team. Therefore, he can only prove himself in a Real Madrid jersey. After playing a significant role in winning the La Liga championship, his next challenge is to shine in the Champions League. The team has a return match with Man City after losing 1-2 in the first leg.

After winning the La Liga championship, Benzema is expected to inspire Real to overcome another rapid, called Man City, to advance further on the road to conquering the Champions League.  Photo: Reuters.

Following their La Liga championship win, Benzema is anticipated to motivate Real Madrid to surpass another speedy team, Man City, in order to progress and dominate the Champions League. It’s important for Benzema to not only accumulate goals but to demonstrate quality on the field. Ronaldo’s legendary status at Real Madrid and his prominent role in their attack stems from his ability to excel in crucial matches in the Champions League, ultimately aiding in the club’s historic moments. Ronaldo’s shining moments and impressive scoring records on the continent’s grandest stage are what many associate with his time at Real Madrid. Benzema now has the chance to follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps.

Scroll to Top