While not attracting the same attention as many of his contemporaries, Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema continued to write his name in the men’s Champions League history books in his team’s match against Chelsea.
After Madrid were at a disadvantage in the early stages of the match, when Christian Pulisic secured his own place in the history of the tournament by scoring the goal that opened the scoring; Benzema converted to sign a 1-1 draw and keep the home team’s aspirations alive in the first leg of their semifinal bracket, played on Tuesday night.
The French striker scored a volley from close range in the 29th minute to equalize the score at Valdebebas’ Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium, further cementing his name in the annals of greatness at his club and throughout European football.
With that goal, Benzema became just the fifth player to record at least 20 goals in the knockout phase of the competition, joining Cristiano Ronaldo (67 goals), Lionel Messi (49), Robert Lewandowski (26) and Thomas Müller ( 24).
Additionally, with this goal Benzema adds a total of 71 goals in the Champions League, equaling himself with the Real Madrid legend Raúl González in the historical classification: only Cristiano (134), Messi (120) and Lewandowski (73) have scored more goals in the competition. . However, all of “El Gato” Benzema’s goals have been the product of open play, contrary to the players who surpass him in the historical record.
Likewise, Benzema has managed to score more goals in the Champions League (15) than his former partner Cristiano (14), since the latter left Madrid for Juventus in the summer of 2018, after both raised their fourth Champions League trophy. together.
– Real Madrid CF 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 27, 2021
Even by his high performance standards, Benzema has reached an optimum level in recent weeks, having directly participated in 15 goals scored in his last 14 appearances wearing the merengue jersey in all competitions (13 goals and two assists). As if he sought to highlight his efficiency against the opposing goal, Benzema scored with the only shot on goal made by Madrid during the entire match against Chelsea. This highly productive period has not gone unnoticed by its technical director: Zinedine Zidane gave his compatriot wide praise after the clash against the Blues, stating:
“Karim is amazing and I’m happy for him, although I’m not surprised to see what he does in every game.”
The Madrid-based sports daily AS also praised the French forward’s influence with a view to returning at Stamford Bridge, stating on its cover: “Benzema is hope“. The Spanish newspaper went one step further on his Instagram account, publishing a photographic composition in which the Frenchman seems to hold a Ballon d’Or, asking himself the question:” Has Karim’s year come? “
It seems that the faith placed in Benzema is not overstated, as the striker has proven to be incredibly effective at the crucial moments of major European knockout tournaments. We reiterate: only Cristiano (13 goals), Lewandowski (7) and Messi (6) have converted more in Champions semi-final matches than the former Lyon striker (5).
⚪️ Oldest scorers for Real Madrid in Champions League semi-finals:
– UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 27, 2021
At 33 years and 129 days, Benzema is currently the oldest player to have broken the opposing goal at this stage of the competition, proving that longevity has yet to take its toll on his talents.
Additionally, Chelsea is the 33rd team that Benzema has converted against during his 16 seasons playing the Champions League: another position he shares with Raúl. Both maintain a tie for third place in the historical ranking. There are no prizes for those who guess the names of the two footballers who occupy the first and second places: Messi has scored against 36 teams and Cristiano, against 35.
Benzema’s record shows six goals in nine appearances so far this edition of the Champions League, with 28 goals in all competitions; while his grand total since signing for Real Madrid in 2009 adds up to 277 goals and 142 assists in 553 games.
In any other era, Benzema would be considered a football titan. However, it could be said that, for some reason, French is still undervalued by the majority. Those who know, know.