According to former French boss Raymond Domenech, Cristiano Ronaldo was an enormous influence in helping Karim Benzema fulfill his potential as a player.
In July 2009, just weeks before Benzema joined from Olympique Lyon, Ronaldo came to Real Madrid from Manchester United. In Madrid’s attack, the pair enjoyed a fine partnership, winning 171 of the 238 LaLiga fixtures they played in together, a 71.8 percent figure. Together, the pair won twice in LaLiga and Copa del Rey, and four times in the Champions League, including three in a row from 2016 to 2018.
Since Ronaldo’s exit for Juventus before the 2018-19 season, Benzema has taken on much of the goal-scoring responsibility and has netted 49 LaLiga goals, produced 19 assists, and created 119 chances for team-mates. The form of Benzema was crucial to last season’s title success in Madrid, while he has seven goals, five assists, and 13 opportunities this season alone.
Domenech, the man who first called up Benzema for Les Bleus, claims that playing with the kind of careful planning alongside a player as Ronaldo has been beneficial to the career of the striker.
“He had this intelligence to adapt to the situation and to exploit his potential. I saw him come back little by little. He was making efforts, relocations, calls, runs, whereas before he wanted the ball into his feet and just play. Karim was helpful to Ronaldo. And Ronaldo helped Karim, improved him. They absorbed each other.”
Domenech claims that Benzema was too content to float around on unfulfilled potential before working alongside Ronaldo. Domenech said, “He believed that it was written and inscribed forever, that he was going to make his career like that and that he could be satisfied with doing little. Physically, he is monstrous, but he did not exploit this potential, was content to say to himself: ‘Me, I’m here to score, the others just have to do the job’. He was in that phase, and he wasn’t the only one.”