With the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France fast approaching, we take a closer look at Real Madrid’s ferociously in-form Frenchman Karim Benzema.
Born on December 19, 1987, to Algerian parents Hafid Benzema and Wahida Djebbara in Lyon, the forward was also eligible to represent the African nation similarly to Zinedine Zidane. He, like his former manager, opted to play for France.
13-time winners Real Madrid take on six-time winners Liverpool in a rematch of the 2017/18 final where Los Blancos came out on top, Benzema scored the opening goal in that clash (where Real Madrid went on to win 3-1) thanks to a wayward throw from Loris Karius.
This season though, Karim Benzema has enjoyed his most prolific campaign to date. He has hit 44 goals across all competitions and is the leading Champions League goalscorer with 15 strikes. 10 of those goals came during the knockout stages, equaling former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s record set in the 2016/17 season.
The France and Real Madrid goal poacher became the fourth player to score back-to-back Champions League hat-tricks (Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano the others), with his treble of goals against PSG (Round of 16) and Chelsea (Quarter-final) earning him notable credit as a Ballon d'Or frontrunner for 2022.
Benzema is currently joint-third with Robert Lewandowski on 86 Champions League goals and one goal will see him become the outright third top scorer, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (140) and Lionel Messi (125).
The Frenchman has scored seven Champions League goals against English sides this season (4 vs Chelsea, 3 vs Man City). The only player to score more against a specific nation in a single campaign in the competition was Luis Adriano vs Belarussian clubs in 2014/15 (8, all vs BATE Borisov).
Speaking to UEFA on the prospect of winning the UEFA Champions League for a fifth time with Real Madrid, Benzema said:
“I’ll see whether I’ve made club history when I finish my football career. In any case, all my matches are important for me. I try to do something new each time, to make it exciting for the fans.
“That said, of course it’s my dream to win another Champions League. But we have to be really well prepared and play to win in the final.
Discussing the prospect of breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 goals in a single UEFA Champions season:
“Records will always exist, and they are there to be broken. For me, what matters the most is to give it my all on the pitch to help my team win; if I can score or assist goals, that’s important, but the most important thing is to step on the pitch and win the game.”
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