Benzema's best ever chance to win La Liga’s top scorer prize

Euan McTear 16 Aug 2021 13:35 CEST 4 min read
Karim Benzema

Real Madrid started their 2021/22 La Liga campaign with a 4-1 victory over Alaves and Karim Benzema was the leader of Los Blancos’ attack, netting twice in the Saturday night win.

Those two goals initially put him at the top of the standings for the Pichichi award, the name of the prize for the top scorer of each Spanish football season.

Angel Correa, Martin Braithwaite and Erik Lamela all joined Benzema on two goals with their Sunday performances, but the Frenchman will know that he has an excellent opportunity in front of him to win his first Pichichi prize.

New Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has promised attacking football this season and Benzema knows he’ll be the starting centre-forward for every game, except for suspension, injury or the occasional rotation.

With Benzema back in the France national team set-up, the 33-year-old may need more rest than in the previous few campaigns, but he’ll still play more minutes than most members of this year’s squad.

With Sergio Ramos gone, Benzema will also be in charge of spotkick responsibilities, even if Real Madrid were only awarded three penalties in La Liga last campaign, the joint-lowest in the division.

We’re trying to implement attacking football to create more chances
- Carlo Ancelotti

The Pichichi is wide open following Messi’s departure

There’s an elephant in the room or, rather, a goat who now plays in France. It has to be said that Lionel Messi’s transfer to PSG is one of the main reasons why Benzema is the leading favourite to win La Liga’s top scorer prize this campaign.

Messi has won this award for five years in a row and eight times in total, having posted extraordinary scoring numbers for a decade and a half. In each of the three seasons since Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid, only Messi scored more league goals than Benzema did. The Argentine had 36 to Benzema’s 21 in 2018/19, 25 compared to 21 in 2019/20 and 30 vs 23 last season.

With the Argentine out of the equation and with three-time Pichichi winner Ronaldo long gone too, Benzema finally has an opportunity to take this individual honour.

Benzema has been top scorer before… in France

If the No.9 can go on and win this year’s top scorer award, it won’t actually be the first time he has scored more goals than anybody else in his league. Back when he was just 20 years of age, Benzema was the top scorer of the 2007/08 Ligue 1 season, netting 20 times for Lyon in what remains their most recent championship triumph.

The striker has won so many team titles since then, but hasn’t again finished a season at the top of the scoring charts. Perhaps that’ll change in 2021/22.