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Is Karim Benzema Getting Better With Age?

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Is Karim Benzema Getting Better With Age?

The saying ‘aged like a fine wine’ has become accustomed to some of the footballing greats in recent years. Stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gianluigi Buffon are just a few recent legendary figures that have flourished despite going beyond their thirties.

After an incredible few seasons and some outstanding performances, like the recent hat-trick to see Real Madrid come from behind against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16, Karim Benzema has surely been added to the list of footballers that have become even better with age.

2021/22 Champions League Top Scorer Tips

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Karim Benzema @ 16/1

Benzema’s Early Years

Benzema has always been a top-class striker, having joined Real in 2009 after having 93 goal involvements in 148 appearances for Lyon. During his time in Ligue 1, the talismanic Frenchman played part in four Ligue 1 title wins in a row and has previously attracted a lot of interest from then Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Frenchman wasn’t able to produce those sorts of numbers early on in his Madrid career though, with just the nine goals in his debut campaign for the Spanish giants as he struggled to be an instant success.

As the years went on his numbers improved, but the striker still wasn’t as prolific in front of goal for Los Blancos. This was mostly down to Benzema changing his game and often coming deep as a centre forward, finding the passes to set up the unstoppable Ronaldo coming in from the left. Until Ronaldo left in 2018, Benzema had only reached the 20+ goal mark in La Liga twice doing so in 2011/12 and 2015/16 – a feat that he has managed in all four of the La Liga seasons since.

When Ronaldo departed for Juventus in 2018, it left Madrid without their star Galactico leading the line. The Portuguese icon fired in an astonishing 450 goals in just 438 appearances, their all-time top scorer, so was always going to leave a giant hole.

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Real Madrid to Make the Champions League Final @ 4/1

How Ronaldo’s Exit has Allowed Benzema to Create his own Legacy

Benzema has stepped up to the plate though and, although he obviously isn’t Cristiano Ronaldo, he has matured with age to become the spearhead that his side needs.

With other senior figures at the club such as Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane following Ronaldo out the door in recent years, Benzema has become a leader in the Santiago Bernabeu changing room and one that the young talents, such as Vinicius Junior, can look up to.

The 34-year-old had to alter his game again when Ronaldo left and he is now the complete forward that fires in the goals, links up play and provides assists. With 22 goals in 25 games so far this season, he is only two goals away from equalling his career-best of 24 goals in 2015/16. Across all competitions, his 32 goals are already the same number as his best season a decade ago in 2011/12. He also has 11 assists in the league this season, more than any other player.

Perhaps the exit of Ronaldo and the fall from grace that Gareth Bale has had has cast a closer eye on Benzema’s overall performances, and there is no doubt that in recent years, the Frenchman has shone, scoring 87 La Liga goals since the start of 2018/19.

Champions League Outright Winner Odds

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Real Madrid to win the 2021/22 Champions League @ 12/1