• Benzema: Ronaldo's depature has let me be a leader, play 'true football'

  • Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from Real Madrid last summer

    has given Karim Benzema the chance to play his "true

    football," the French forward has told France Football.

    Ronaldo was the focal point of the Madrid attack from when

    he arrived in the Spanish capital -- at the same time as

    Benzema -- in 2009 until the Portuguese superstar headed for

    Juventus last summer.

    Benzema, who had been a prodigy as a striker at Lyon, had

    often been seen as playing second fiddle to his prolific

    teammate, teeing up Ronaldo for a healthy portion of the more

    than 300 goals he netted in his time with the Spanish giants.

    Now, it is Benzema who leads the line for Santiago Solari's

    side, and the 31-year-old could not be happier to have taken

    on extra responsibility with the 13-time European champions.

    "Before, there was a guy that scored more than 50 goals a

    season and I was in the role of a passer. Except that I had the

    No. 9 on my back. I didn't play centre-forward in fact, in spite

    of my position. I played in terms of Cristiano. We formed a

    great duo. I looked for him constantly with the aim of helping

    him score even more goals. I was in a secondary role.

    "Now, it's up to me to show I want to score, that I want to

    carry the team. And that's what I like. It's actually what I did at

    Lyon. I said to myself that I had to take that to Madrid, but

    even better. And that's the case now," explained Benzema,

    who has scored 20 times in 40 competitive outings for his

    club this season.

    "When I came to Madrid, I had to change my way of playing. I

    put myself at the service of a guy who -- I say again -- scored

    50 goals a season. And it was a pleasure to play with him.

    Now, I'm the leader of the attack. It's up to me to make the

    difference. I am very happy, because I can play my true


    While Ronaldo is way ahead at the top of the Champions

    League all-time scorers' chart, Benrema's four strikes in the

    competition this term have eased him into fourth place in the

    prestigious ranking, 11 goals behind another Madrid legend,


    "That shows that I scored goals before and at important

    moments, because the Champions League, even when an

    opponent seems to be less good, is always tough. Seeing

    myself in this position makes me very proud and motivates me

    to go further, which means catching the legend that is Raul,"

    said the Frenchman, who has 60 goals to Raul's 71. "I don't

    think about statistics when I'm on the pitch, I'm not obsessed

    by that. But the consequence of my play is that I can go a little

    more into the history of Real Madrid if I catch Raul.

    "But that will come by playing my game, not by listening to

    those who say, 'Think more about yourself.' No, no, I respect

    football. I say to myself, 'Make runs, open up play, play passes

    and you'll be rewarded sooner or later.'"

    He added: "Of course, it's good to score goals to make your

    team win, but if you can give it victory another way, that's also

    good. I really regret that today we talk more about statistics,

    the number of goals and chances, than your play. For me,

    football is above all a game. It's not only statistics. It's not

    basketball! You go to see a football match for moves, one-

    twos, shots, no-look passes...Football has to remain a show.

    I've thought of football like that since I was very small."

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  • 26 Feb '19 - 04:51am
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  • Comments (1)
  • yankycool on 26 Feb '19 - 09:54am
    Nice one
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