Barely a couple of minutes had passed since the Romanian Kovacs had whistled the end of the match at the Etihad and Benzema was already launching the Operation Comeback, a seven-day campaign that Madrid intends to finish next Wednesday before its public. “Now we have to go to the Bernabéu. We need the fans like never before and we are going to do something magical, which is to win,” said Benzema hotly in the television super flash interview on the pitch at the Etihad. He spoke with the captain’s armband on his arm and acting as such. He is the spiritual and material leader of this team that unapologetically aspires to take the 14th European Cup to the Bernabéu in just one month.
The passport for Paris has Benzema’s name written on it. It has been his goals that have put Madrid on the verge of a new final. The hat trick PSG in less than 17 minutes in the round of 16; his other hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, ultimately decisive; the final header that knocked Chelsea down at the Bernabéu to avoid disaster and seal the pass to the semis; the two goals from him in Manchester that keep Madrid’s Parisian dream alive…
The Champions League crosses have awakened the most voracious Karim. The Frenchman has nine goals, out of Madrid’s 11 in the knockout rounds, just one goal away from equaling the best record in the competition at this stage: the ten scored by Cristiano Ronaldo on his way to the Twelfth in 2016-17. In total, Benzema has 14 this season in the top continental competition, double his best European campaign so far (his ceiling was seven in 2011-12). He is three goals away from a record that not long ago anyone would have described as unattainable for him: the 17 goals that accredit Cristiano Ronaldo as the top scorer in a single edition (2013-14) of the Champions League.
There is no record that can resist this Benzema or age that can stop him. The Madrid striker continues adding records in a season for history. At 34 years old, when many players are facing the last throes of their career or have even hung up their boots, Karim is at the peak of his career. A moment of grace that has lasted several months, if not seasons. He has 128 goals in the four years he has been without Cristiano at Madrid.
With an average of one goal every 86 minutes, the 9 Blanco now has 41 goals in the 41 games he has played this season. A figure, with six or seven games still ahead to continue increasing their numbers, which makes this is by far his best year, surpassing the 32 goals of ten years ago (2011-12 season). Benzema is the fifth Real Madrid player capable of scoring more than 40 goals in a single campaign. A record that had only been surpassed by his former partner Cristiano (eight times), Hugo Sánchez (twice), Di Stéfano and Puskas.
Players with the most appearances at Real Madrid
On the night in which he reached his 600th game as a madridista, he unapologetically removed the stigma of the two missed penalties against Osasuna by launching a new maximum penalty, Panenka-style, and thus broke a new longevity record. Karim has become the second oldest player (34 years and 127 days) to reach 40 goals in official competitions in the same season with a team from the four major European leaguesaccording to the Stats Foot Twitter account.
🇫🇷 Karim Benzema (34 years and 4 months) became his oldest joueur atteindre la barre des 40 buts lors d’une season in competition officielle avec un club du Top 4 européen depuis 🇭🇺 Ferenc Puskas (35 years and 3 months) on July 8, 1962 with Real Madrid. @PSSportsFR #MCIRMA
— Stats Foot (@Statsdufoot) April 26, 2022
That record is held by Puskas, who scored 41 in the 1960-61 season that ended at 34 years and 91 days. To put Benzema’s merit in the current context, Messi (34) has not scored 40 goals for three seasons (this season he has only scored 9!) and Cristiano (37) has not achieved it in the four seasons he has takes away from Madrid. The Argentine did it for the last time about to turn 32; the Portuguese, just turned 33.
Vinicius defined his teammate’s moment after the game against City: “He has high confidence and hopefully he can finish the season well by winning the League, the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or”. The first two depend on your goals; the third, of the will of the jury to grant him the recognition he deserves. The merits are brought together: the most decisive player in the decisive phase of the most important club competition. The road to Paris and the Fourteenth Street is drawn by his boots.