Karim Benzema took one other step in direction of cementing his fame as an all-time LaLiga nice on Wednesday when the Real Madrid ahead’s goal towards Elche put him in the league’s top 5 all-time goal scorers outright, transferring him forward of one other Madrid legend, Raul Gonzalez.
Benzema scored twice from the spot, getting the most effective of Edgar Badía from 12 yards. Those spot-kicks take him to 230 targets in LaLiga, placing him two away from Raul.
It’s been fairly a journey for Benzema, 35, who hasn’t all the time appeared the half as a pure goal scorer since becoming a member of Madrid from Lyon in July 2009 — the identical summer time because the membership twice broke the world switch report, first for Kaka, after which for Cristiano Ronaldo. At first, he confronted competitors from Gonzalo Higuain for a spot in the workforce. Then-coach Jose Mourinho wasn’t satisfied, famously declaring — after an harm to Higuain left Benzema as his solely obtainable ahead — that “if you don’t have a dog to go hunting with, you go with a cat.”
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Benzema’s return in his debut 2009-10 season was modest, with eight league targets in 27 appearances — 13 of them as an alternative — however his tallies quickly started to extend. In any case, the presence of Ronaldo alongside him meant the France ahead was by no means anticipated to bear the goal-scoring burden alone. His LaLiga targets totals for the following seven seasons had been a good 15, 21, 11, 17, 15, 24 and 11.
There was a dramatic drop-off in 2017-18, with a lack of type ensuing in an avalanche of criticism throughout a three-month run with out scoring in LaLiga from November to February, and a report of simply 5 league targets in 32 appearances. But Benzema’s fortunes — and his position in the workforce — modified dramatically with Ronaldo’s departure for Juventus in July 2018.
With no like-for-like alternative incoming, Benzema took the accountability of getting into Ronaldo’s goal-scoring footwear. His LaLiga goal tallies since then: 21, 21, 23, a private better of 27 in 2021-22, and 11 to this point this season. That late-career spurt has seen Benzema shoot up the all-time rating of LaLiga scorers, along with his targets in 2023 pushing him forward of two different Real Madrid icons: Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul.
For Madrid followers of a sure age, Di Stefano is undisputed because the membership’s greatest-ever participant, and in the dialog with the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona as the most effective footballer of all time. The Argentina-born all-rounder — to explain him as a ahead would not do justice to his affect throughout the pitch — scored 227 targets in 329 league appearances in Spain between 1953 and 1966. The overwhelming majority of them, 216, got here for Madrid, with 11 coming in two seasons at Espanyol earlier than retirement on the age of 40. Di Stefano was the marquee participant in a golden Real Madrid period, successful eight league titles and 5 consecutive European Cups, scoring in all 5 finals between 1956 and 1960.
Raul was a determine of the same stature for the Madrid groups of the Nineties and 2000s. Making his first-team debut in 1994 aged 17 — having been poached from rivals Atletico Madrid following the closure of their academy — Raul went on to develop into membership captain, successful six league titles and three Champions Leagues. He scored 228 targets in 550 LaLiga appearances, all of them for Madrid, earlier than transferring to Germany with Schalke in 2010. Raul is now coach of Real Madrid Castilla, the membership’s reserve workforce (who play their dwelling video games on the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano), and seen as a possible successor to Carlo Ancelotti.
Ahead of that illustrious pair, simply 4 gamers stay who’ve scored extra LaLiga targets than Benzema.
The first of them needs to be inside his attain in the following few weeks. The Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez scored 234 targets in 347 league video games for Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano between 1981 and 1994. Sanchez rose to prominence at Atletico, scoring 54 targets in 4 seasons, earlier than a controversial cross-city transfer to Madrid. His report there was devastating, together with a European Golden Boot-winning 38 league targets in 1989-90. Thanks to Sanchez’s targets, Madrid dominated Spanish soccer, successful LaLiga 5 occasions in a row between 1985 and 1990.
Catching the third-placed man on the listing may be formidable this season, however it’s a sensible goal for Benzema subsequent yr. Athletic Club’s Telmo Zarra held the report because the league’s top scorer for greater than 60 years, giving his identify to Marca’s Zarra Trophy, awarded every season to the highest-scoring Spanish participant in LaLiga (to not be confused with the Pichichi award, which is given to the league’s outright top scorer). The Basque ahead, famend for his heading means, scored 251 targets in 277 league video games — a exceptional common of 0.91 targets per sport — spending his whole skilled profession at Athletic from 1940 to 1955.
You would possibly simply have heard of the top two scorers in Spanish top-flight historical past: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo scored 311 targets in 292 LaLiga video games for Real Madrid between 2009 and 2018, a staggering 1.07 targets per sport. But it is Messi — thanks in half to his additional longevity, with a Barcelona profession that lasted from 2004 till 2021, when he left for Paris Saint-Germain — who ended up successful the shootout with Ronaldo and tops the listing, with a jaw-dropping 474 targets in 520 LaLiga appearances.
Could Benzema overtake them in time? Well, he’d have to attain one other 244 LaLiga targets — greater than doubling his present tally — to catch Messi. And on the age of 35, even Benzema’s largest followers would possibly admit that is unlikely.