Karim Benzema has been hiding in plain sight for most of his prime — which will happen when you’re playing in the shadow of Real Madrid’s all-time leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the French international became the fourth player to ever score back-to-back Champions League hat-tricks in a 3-1 first-leg quarter-final victory over Chelsea, he’s leading La Liga in scoring (24), and his 11 UCL strikes are second behind Robert Lewandowski.
With a career campaign for the Spanish giants, the 34-year-old has surely — finally — earned his own share of the spotlight.
- Benzema has scored 42 goals in his last 42 games, 13 in his last seven, and 10 in his last four.
- The next-closest scorer in La Liga this season — teammate Vinicius Jr. — is 10 goals behind him.
- Benzema’s the fourth player in UCL history to reach 80+ goals.
- He’s now eight goals away from passing Raul (323) for second-most goals in club history.
After five seasons with hometown club Lyon, Benzema transferred to Real for $41 million in 2009 and signed a two-year extension — with an intentionally exorbitant, $1.2 billion release clause.
Real Madrid has a 12-point lead in La Liga over rivals Barcelona and a two-goal lead over the defending UCL champs heading into the second leg.
While a European trophy would spike Benzema’s chances to win the Ballon d’Or, he deserves serious consideration regardless.