Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski
Photo: NewsBytes

Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski are fighting for the top scorer title in the Champions League this season. And, indirectly, the best striker in the world.

When we see the crazy seasons of Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé, we can legitimately think that 2 of the 3 best strikers in the world are French. Consecrating the duo of the Blues is not incongruous, but a man forces even the most chauvinistic to show measure.

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With 12 goals in 9 matches, Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer of the Champions League 2021-22 edition, followed by Benzema (11).

The two strikers are engaged in a duel from a distance that frightens the counters and which nourishes the hope of a European crown for both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at the dawn of the quarter-finals return. Focus.

Lewandowski is the top scorer for now…

As has been said, Lewandowski (33) is ahead of Benzema (34) by one unit in the C1 goalscoring rankings. It may not last. Firstly, Bayern Munich, beaten in the first leg by Villarreal (1-0), is in an unfavorable swing for qualification.

Real Madrid, victorious at Chelsea (1-3), has one foot in the semi-finals. This would give Benzema two more games to shine and finish the top scorer of a Champions League campaign for the first time in his career. In 2019-20 (15 goals), a unique fact is that of Lewandowski.

The French striker also has a sparkling form: he remains on two hat-tricks in C1 and 7 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 La Liga matches.

On the other hand, Lewandowski remained silent during the quarter-first leg at Villarreal and has scored “only” 4 goals in his last 6 Bundesliga meetings. A soft blow that falls badly.

… and historical leader with penalties

The remote duel is not only valid for this season. Cristiano Ronaldo (141) and Lionel Messi (125) are on their planet in the historical ranking of Champions League scorers. Behind, Robert Lewandowski (85) leads the dance with a breath in front of Karim Benzema (82).

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If he discovered the C1 later, the Pole quickly put on the costume of star striker at Bayern Munich… and penalty shooter. 16 of his 85 goals came this way. Benzema scored… only once on penalty in the Champions League, after having long left this task to Ronaldo. A statistical nod: “KB9” and “Lewy” scored the same number of goals in the group stage, 56.

Benzema more complete

While they have things in common, Benzema and Lewandowski also have differences. The first has often, and with enthusiasm, abandoned the function of pure center-forward to play the numbers 10, the playmakers.

Benzema has always scored more than Lewandowski to combine with his partners and has a more developed vision of the game, evidenced by his 26 assists in the Champions League (20 for the Pole).

“Compared to the Karim I knew five years ago, he is a much more complete player,” said his coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who returned to the Madrid bench last August. Before Chelsea’s reception, the Italian even called him “the ultimate modern striker.”

Against Chelsea last week, we were also able to admire the quality of his head game twice. Fate dictates that the same morning, in an interview published by L’Équipe, Benzema deciphered his aerial game: “Today, I do a lot of sheathing, abs, I realize that I jump higher than the guys. Then, for accuracy, it’s like in my game, I’m not a jerk.

So I jump, and then I know if to sting if to ring a bell.” Benzema’s other 9 goals in C1 have been scored with his right foot this season. Two came from a dry cleaner that illustrates its defensive slaughter. One came from a precise strike at 18 meters, and one on the penalty.

As for Lewandowski scored once from the head, 3 times with his left foot (including twice with success), and 8 times from the right (including three penalties). Number nine, racy, the Bavarian, is at least as much a killer on the surface as Benzema.

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However, its palette seems less extensive. He can console himself with one of the most beautiful goals of this Champions League season, an acrobatic return under the snow that stunned Dynamo Kiev on November 23 (1-2).

See you in the final?

What if this long-distance struggle continued to the final? The draw means that Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will not be able to cross paths before the big meeting at the Stade de France on May 28.

Since Lewandowski has been at Bayern (2014), the German club has only faced Real twice: in the 2017 quarter-finals and the 2018 semi-finals. Each time, the Merengue qualified and lifted the Cup with big ears.

As incredible as it may seem, as they are two European giants, a Real-Bayern final would be… unprecedented in the history of the C1. Benzema and Lewandowski know the way if they want to write a new page of their legend.

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