Karim Benzema v Robert Lewandowski: Two contemporary strikers featuring in ElClasico

football17 March 2023 09:33| © SuperSport
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Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski © Getty Images

They are two of the greatest strikers of the 21st century, and today they are also the main offensive weapons of the two contenders for the LaLiga Santander title.

This Sunday, in ElClásico, they will meet for the 10th time. The previous nine meetings have resulted in four wins for each player and one draw.

Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have had parallel sporting careers, but from a distance. The Frenchman, born in 1987, is only a year older than the Pole, and both have earned the reputation as two of the greatest strikers of their generation. Both right-footers, both 1.85m tall and with the number 9 on their backs as their trademark, will face each other for the first time in the national championship and lead the two candidates to win the LaLiga Santander title at the end of the season.

Karim Benzema currently wears the captain's armband at Real Madrid. Since his arrival at the club in 2009, he has scored 341 goals in 632 games (230 goals in 430 games in LaLiga Santander) and in addition to making history with an enviable record, he also won the 2022 Ballon d'Or, joining the select club of eight players who have won the award in the white shirt: Di Stéfano, Raymond Kopa, Luis Figo, Ronaldo Nazario, Cannavaro, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema. He is a club legend, the most-capped foreign player in the club's history and currently in his 14th season at the Bernabéu.

On the other hand, Lewandowski is a new arrival at FC Barcelona. After making history in German football, playing for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the Pole wanted to undertake a new challenge and arrived in the summer of 2022 in LaLiga Santander to lead FC Barcelona's attack. His impact has not gone unnoticed and it didn't take him long to win over the fans at the Spotify Camp Nou.

What is certain is that, despite the fact that presumably, the best years of both should be behind them, Benzema and Lewandowski continue to perform so well that they seem to get better with age, like a fine wine. So much so that both are the top scorers for their respective teams in LaLiga Santander this season, and the Pole even leads the ranking of the competition's top scorers.

In addition, their performances over the years have led them to become the third and fourth top scorers in Champions League history. Robert Lewandowski has 91 and Karim Benzema 89, but with both still active it is impossible to predict if either will finish ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi on the podium of top scorers in the history of the competition by the end of their careers.

But despite their status as strikers and being known for their goalscoring prowess, it is well known that Lewandowski and Benzema are also comfortable playing outside the penalty area. Their ability to work with others has led them to be decisive when it comes to assists, widening the range of possibilities for decision-making in the final third of the pitch. In fact, the pair have created 17 chances between them in LaLiga Santander 2022-23 so far, with 21 key passes from the Frenchman and 24 from the Pole.

Sunday's match will be the 10th time they have played each other. To date, with a record of seven Champions League games, one LaLiga Santander and one Supercopa de España, the stats counter slightly favours Lewandowski: the Pole has seven goals and two assists in his games against Benzema, who himself has five goals and one assist against Lewandowski. As for the results of these matches, they are completely even: four wins each and one draw.

Lewandowski was unable to score in his first ElClásico game in LaLiga Santander, but he did make his debut in this fixture in the Supercopa de España final. That said, Benzema has 13 goals in 41 ElClásico matches in all competitions, and this Sunday he could equal (or surpass) César Rodríguez, Paco Gento and Ferenc Puskás (14) and even Raúl (15) in the all-time scoring charts for this match, which is led by Leo Messi on 26 goals.