Karim Benzema is the most underrated striker in world football right now. There: I’ve said it. Forget the shining stars of Mbappe and Haaland, and bask in the glory of Karim’s red giant glow.
After PSG went 1-0 up this morning in the first half of their last-16 Champions League match against Real Madrid, putting them 2-0 up on aggregate, and then continued to dominate possession in the first half, victory looked almost inevitable for the expensive Parisian side, which had a forward line of Mbappe, Neymar and Messi.
But even when victory looks fated for another team, against Real Madrid, in the Champions League, you can never fully count them out. And at this moment, right when it was toughest for the Champions League specialists, Karim Benzema and Luca Modric really stepped up.
Benzema put away a hat-trick in the second half, including two goals in short succession, capitalising on a couple of horrific errors from PSG’s pressured defence, and some incredible distribution from Modric.
Benzema became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League (he’s 34 years and 80 days old), a record which was previously held by Olivier Giroud. One imagines Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both looking at this record with envy (both of whom are older than Benzema, with the former being a couple of years older and the latter being a couple of months older).
Benzema has now scored 76 goals in the Champions League in his career, making him the league’s fourth all-time top scorer (behind Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski – all three of which typically get more recognition than the Frenchman).
This leads us to want to recognise Benzema’s incredible talent (which he also demonstrated with an outlandish flick to stop the ball going out in the first half) and scoring ability, which went under-appreciated while Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, and which has really come into focus in the last few years.
He also has a humble attitude, saying after the game, loosely translated from Spanish, “Every game from here on out is a final” and (on the goal) “it’s not an error [by the defender], it was pressure from the whole team.”
He added that Madrid can beat anyone if they play the right way, and that the fans were crucial: “Us with pressure can beat any team. Everyone in their place and with the fans like today.”
While you might argue the younger Mbappe and Harland are better, the amount of attention they get, we feel confident in saying that, at least outside of Spain, Benzema is the most underrated striker in the world game.
What a remarkable turn around – especially considering at halftime the Aussie pundits on Stan were talking about how not only PSG had more talent but they were better both at pressing and at possession than Real Madrid.
Yet another game that will go towards building the myth that you can never count out Los Blancos in Europe… And yet another game that will put Pochettinos job under pressure…