In an interview published in today’s L’Équipe, France striker Karim Benzema discussed his excellent start to the season with Real Madrid, his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, as well as his ambitions with France over the coming years.
Is this the best form of your career?
Definitely in terms of statistics. Almost everything is there in terms of goals, assists, and decisive contributions. But then it’s not changed much in terms of what I’m showing and what I’ve been doing on the pitch for a while.
On being the top scorer in the top 5 leagues and scoring 70% of Real Madrid’s goals
It gives you an idea. I especially like it when my goals and assists are decisive. There are goals which count more than others, when they allow you to win, or draw level. I’m appreciate even more my passes which can change the course of the game. Not every goal has the same value for the team. That’s what I look at as well. Every goal counts for the statistics, they have the same “mathematical” value. There are those which allow you to win, to get points. These are even more decisive. And I’m always looking to be decisive, whether that’s in my goals or my passing – for me, scoring, making someone score, or creating a dangerous situation – it’s all the same.
On Florentino Pérez calling him a mix between Ronaldo [Nazário] and Zinédine Zidane
Those are two players which made me love football. Ronaldo as a striker and Zizou for his class, subtleness, his tempo, his technique. I am between a 9 and a 10.
On scoring 72 Champions League goals, becoming the fourth highest scorer
And out of that total, I’ve only scored one from a penalty, last Tuesday. I’ve moved ahead of Raúl, who is a living legend in Madrid. To manage all of this with Real makes me well happy [60 goals with Real Madrid, 12 with Lyon]. It makes me want to push on, especially when you see that I’ve scored 71 goals in-play. Those are stats which say it all.
On whether he has reached Zinédine Zidane’s status at Real Madrid after 12 years and various titles
[Laughs] I’ll never be able to compare myself to Zizou, and talk about being up to his level with him! I have too much respect for him and Ronaldo. I can only learn from what they’ve done. That’s still the case with Zizou. We get on very well. We still speak often, he can only help me. But I will never say I am his equivalent at Real, that’s unthinkable!
On being at the peak of his fitness at 33 years of age
I’ve become conscious of this necessity in the last 3-4 seasons. You have two solutions when you reach your thirties – either you take charge of yourself to look after your physique, and transform your body, or you let yourself go and your career ends rapidly.
On whether winning the Ballon d’Or is one of his final goals with Real Madrid
You have to think about it when you’re ambitious. But it should definitely not be an obsession which you focus on, which makes you think that you have to do well individually and score goals for yourself. If you win it, it’s because of what you are, what you show on the pitch.
On his goals with the French national team
I came back to win a title with France. All you have to do is look at [the teams in] the Final Four – Belgium, Spain, Italy. It’s tough competition. You always have to bring home what you have the chance of winning. Especially for me with the French national team. It’s going to be competitive.
I always approach it with the idea of writing a new story. You can never make up the lost time [not being called up for six years]. We have to set our sights on the Final Four. I want to do with France what I do at Real Madrid.