Greatest moments of Benzema in a Real Madrid shirt
The award of the 2022 Ballon d’Or is arguably the culmination of Karim Benzema’s career, although that could arguably be topped if he experiences World Cup glory with France in a month’s time, having missed out in 2018.
It is, however, for what he has achieved at Real Madrid that he has been recognised. At the age of 34, he remains at the peak of his powers, as he showed when he gave his club the lead in the recent El Clásico against Barcelona.
Although he joined the Spanish giants in 2009, for much of his early years with the club he was overshadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo, and his role was more that of support striker and foil to the Portuguese.
However, when Ronaldo departed for Juventus in 2018, Benzema emerged out of his shadows to become the main man for his club.
He now is 6th on the list of all time appearances for the club, and second only to Ronaldo with 329 goals to his name.
Here are just a few highlights from his time in the Spanish capital:
Real Madrid’s path to Champions League glory last season was hardly smooth, and they seemed on the verge of elimination in the round of 16 against PSG. They had lost the first leg in Paris by a single goal, and when Kylian Mbappé put his side ahead in Madrid the writing seemed on the wall. Benzema, though, had other ideas, and came up with a hat-trick inside 17 minutes that turned the tie on its head.
Breaker of English hearts
Benzema was not finished making his mark in the competition and, in the next leg, scored a hat-trick away from home as Real beat Chelsea 3 – 1 at Stamford Bridge. The Premier League team mounted an improbable comeback in the reverse fixture and forced the game into extra time, before Benzema settled things with what proved to be the aggregate winner.
Drawn against another English side, Manchester City, he scored twice at the Etihad in the away leg, but his side still trailed 4 -3 going into the home leg. With City taking the league in Spain, the match ticked to the 90th minute and Real seemed on the verge of elimination again.
However, two goals from Rodrygo in the space of a minute took the game to extra time, and, when Real then won a penalty, it was Benzema who kept his nerve to convert it.
Five Champions League winners’ medals
Although Benzema could not add to his goal tally in the final against Liverpool, he was the main reason that his side were there in the first place and was fully deserving of his winner’s medal. In the process he made history, becoming the first ever player to have won the tournament five times.
Fastest goal in El Clásico
In 2011, playing at home against Barcelona, Benzema found the net after just 21 seconds. That remains the fastest goal in the history of that storied fixture.
Real’s 1000th European goal
The Frenchman had the honour of scoring Real’s 1000th goal in European competitions when he found the net in a 5 – 1 thrashing of Swiss side FC Basel in the Champions League in 2014, with Ronaldo setting him up to finish with a powerful left-foot shot.