Karim Benzema has been discussing what it is like to play with and without Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, with the Frenchman admitting that the Portuguese forced him to change his game as “he scored 50 goals every year”.
Ronaldo spent nine years at Santiago Bernabeu between 2009 and 2018, before opting for a new challenge in Italy with Serie A champions Juventus.
Benzema often found himself operating in the shadow of an illustrious team-mate, but his value was always recognised by those around him and the 33-year-old has flourished since becoming the leading man in the final third.
What has been said?
Benzema told El Pais on working with Ronaldo: “Cristiano's departure allowed me to play a different role. He scored 50 goals every year and you had to adapt to his game. He is one of the best in the world and I was happy by his side.”
How many goals did Ronaldo score for Real Madrid?
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner linked up with the Blancos on the back of a record-breaking transfer from Manchester United. He hit the ground running, registering 33 goals in his debut campaign, and did not look back.
Ronaldo passed the 40-goal mark in each of the next eight campaigns – with a personal best return of 61 recorded in 2014-15 – as he helped Real to two Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.
In total, with the history books re-written on a regular basis, he found the target on 450 occasions in 438 appearances for Madrid.
Benzema’s record for Real Madrid
The Frenchman went to Santiago Bernabeu in the same summer as Ronaldo.
He was always going to find himself playing a support role, but enjoyed 20-plus seasons himself in front of goal.
Since Ronaldo departed, Benzema has taken his game to new heights with 74 goals in 129 games.
He now has 266 efforts to his name, placing him fifth on the club’s all-time scorer chart, ahead of legendary figures such as Ferenc Puskas and Hugo Sanchez.
The bigger picture
Benzema has Real back in contention for major honours this season.
Zinedine Zidane’s side are looking to defend the Liga crown they captured in 2020. They sit third in the table at present, and are also through to the last-16 of the Champions League.
In elite European competition, the Blancos hold a narrow 1-0 lead over Atalanta heading into the second leg of their knockout clash.
Prior to that encounter, Real have a derby with neighbours Atletico Madrid and a home date with Elche, with Benzema nursing a groin injury that threatens to keep him out of a trip to Wanda Metropolitano.