Karim Benzema has become the all-time appearance record holder for a French player in the Champions League having been named in the starting line-up for Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
The striker surpasses his former international team-mate Thierry Henry as he lines up for the 113th time in the competition at Parc des Princes.
He netted in the 2018 final in Kiev when Real beat Liverpool 3-1 to win a third consecutive title, opening the scoring after intercepting a dreadful clearance by Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) September 18, 2019
And now Real are looking to win back the trophy they held for three seasons between 2016-18 as they get their campaign under way against PSG, who are themselves desperate to surpass their previous tournament best of a semi-final place.
That came back in 1995, long before the investment of their Qatari owners transformed the team’s ambitions and made them one of the world’s richest clubs.
Benzema still has some way to go to hold the record outright – former Spain and Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas is the all-time appearance holder in Europe’s top competition with 177 games, whilst Benzema’s former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo extended his lead as the top outfield player to 163 on Wednesday as he turned out for Juventus against Atletico Madrid.
Casillas made his Champions League debut way back in the 1999-00 season and was part of the Real side that won the club its eight European Cup success, defeating Valencia 3-0 in the final.
He won the tournament again in 2002 when Real beat Bayer Leverkusen thanks to a wonder goal from current boss Zinedine Zidane, but it was his error in Lisbon in 2014 against Atletico that almost blew their chance of winning it for a 10th time.