After the match, Benzema said: “I don’t like to play football to be the best in the world… I play for nights like this.”
With only a few months to play before the Ballon d’Or is awarded, it will be interesting to see if Benzema can finally win the award, having previously deserved it, given that only Pole and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski has more Champions League goals. This season, he scored 12 goals.
Europe bends over
The headlines across continental Europe on Thursday focused on the French striker.
Benzema appeared on the front pages in France, Italy and Germany, through its sports magazines and newspapers, such as “L’Equipe”, “La Gazette dello Sport” and “Bird”, and was praised by British sports newspapers.
His Belgian teammate at Real Madrid Thibaut Courtois said, “Benzema is the best striker in the world… and his level is very high. We are scoring with him, he is great.”
The praise came from England too, where former Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand had his speech on the sports TV channel BT Sport.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo was there, Benzema had the humility to occupy a secondary position, because he knew what the team needed,” Ferdinand said.
“But now he’s out of the shadows. He’s 34 and he’s the best No. 9 in the world. He’s on another level.”
Fabio Capello likened him to Alfredo Di Stefano, saying that “those who know football see a lot… He creates, scores and becomes a leader on the field.”
Hat-trick after hat-trick
Benzema has been in great shape lately, and has set up numbers that resemble the best years of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi this season.
He has scored 37 goals so far in 36 games with his team Real Madrid this season and has three consecutive goals in the Champions League as well, and scored 5 other goals for the French national team.
Benzema forced Chelsea goalkeeper Edward Mendy to commit a mistake on Wednesday to complete his hat-trick, just as he should have scored his first goal against Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma a few weeks ago.