Karim Benzema has played for Real Madrid for 14 years. During this time, the Frenchman has not only won countless titles, but also acquired legendary status among the Madrilenians. In fact, things didn't go so smoothly for Benzema at Real right from the start. At times the striker was even booed by his own supporters. But after Ronaldo's departure, Benzema really blossomed and became the winner of the Ballon d'Or in 2022. His career is proof that persistence and developing your game is rewarded. You can now find out exactly what his game looks like and what you can learn from Benzema.
The complete striker
According to Thierry Henry, there are currently few players more complete than Karim Benzema - the striker not only scores goals, but he also acts as a liaison player, he creates scoring chances, he is a strong wall player, he has excellent technique and, on top of that, he also works against the game the ball – Karius, Ulreich & Donnarumma can also sing a song about that.
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/FgeIXV8Wh_E (video about this)
#1 Practical tip: Don't switch off and lurk in the back
After missed scoring opportunities or other ball losses, strikers often have the habit of switching off and arguing with themselves. But immediately after losing the ball, the chances of regaining the ball are particularly high, as the opponent also has to adjust to the new phase of the game.
Especially if you are behind the opponent with the ball, you have a good chance of winning the ball - you are not in the opponent's field of vision and are therefore often not noticed. You can use this to attack the ball unnoticed.
The duo Benzema & Vinicius Junior
Due to Benzema's attentive work against the ball and his versatile qualities, it sometimes happens that the striker has several actions in one attack - winning the ball, passing it deep and finishing on goal. This once again underlines his high value for Real Madrid. Benzema was able to increase this high influence even further, especially thanks to Vinicius Junior's explosion in performance, as the two bring out each other's strengths even more - Vinicius is fast, strong in 1-on-1 situations and always a threat from deep. So Benzema has a receiver for passes to the back of the defense & a teammate who ties up opponents.
The addition becomes particularly clear in counterattack situations. Benzema tends to operate with oncoming movements, while Vinicus Junior moves in depth. This interplay often leads to the dilemma that the defender is faced with the question: secure depth or let Benzema turn it up?
If the defender follows the oncoming movement, this opens up space in depth for Vinicius Junor.
On the other hand, if the defender secures the depth, Benzema can be played and turn up.
#2 Practical tip: coordinate freewheeling movements
Make sure that you coordinate the free running movements with your fellow players. If you both have depth, the defense can prepare very well for the next action. If, on the other hand, you act with opposite free-wheeling movements (one goes deep, one comes towards you), you are more difficult to calculate.
Clever in the box
Despite all of these qualities, Benzema also does justice to his “core tasks” as a striker – scoring goals. The attacker scores a significant proportion of his goals directly and from close range. Not only does his good direct finish and his strong heading game help him, but also his clever movement within the box.
https://www.youtube.com/shorts/7vV2E6SiO4c (video about this)
Before crosses, Benzema often acts behind the defender, so that the defender has difficulty keeping the ball and attacker in sight at all times. When the defender turns his gaze back to the ball, the Frenchman often initiates his free-running movement:
Either he goes to the second post...
..or he comes in front of the defender with an explosive start.
#3 Practical tip: Freewheeling movement & positioning in the box
- Act behind the defender to initiate a sudden free movement.
- Initiate the free run movement when the defender looks away from you
- Perform the free running movement with an explosive change of pace
- Against zonal coverage: Target the spaces between 2 defenders
Ice cold in front of the goal
What is also noticeable about Benzema's goals is that he acts very carefully and calmly when shooting. This is certainly due to his many years of experience - instead of relying on brute force, he relies on precision. Especially from shorter distances, he often finishes with a simple, flat inside kick - the precision is completely sufficient inside the box, as this training video from Benzema shows.
#4 Practical tips: Finishing the goal
Finally, we have two practical tips for finishing on goal. Our first tip is that from a short distance a deliberate inside kick is sufficient - true to the motto accuracy before sharpness.
The second tip doesn't come from us, but from Thomas Tuchel. When aiming, it can be helpful to aim for a smaller, specific target in order to finish more accurately. The Bayern coach therefore recommends “Aim for the small net!” This statement refers to degrees in the “long” corner. This refers to the part of the goal net that runs further from the posts in the direction of play.
About the author:
Luis Österlein (Twitter: LOsterlein ) is a game analyst for the U23 team at FC Bayern Munich and a freelance author. In close collaboration with 360Football, he writes specific blog posts that support players in their football development support.