Euro 2012 Players to Watch: Karim Benzema of France

Peter WebsterContributor IIIMay 22, 2012

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 11:  Karim Benzema of France during the International Friendly match between France and Argentina at the Stade Velodrome on February 11, 2009 in Marseille, France.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

France ought to be heading into Euro 2012 full of confidence after manager Laurent Blanc has stretched the team's unbeaten streak to 18 matches with a 2-1 victory over Germany back in February.

At the forefront of that successful run has been Karim Benzema. Occasionally the third-choice striker for Real Madrid behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain, Benzema is most certainly a first choice for his country.


In Numbers

Benzema—the 2011 French player of the year—has struck 13 goals in 42 international appearances for France—a statistic that would hardly concern you if you were a rival defender, but his domestic form is a whole different animal.

Benzema finished the 2011/12 season for Real Madrid by scoring 32 goals and notching 15 assists in all competitions—not bad from 52 appearances, and certainly a statistic that would raise some eyebrows.


What To Expect

Karim Benzema paired with Loic Remy was a combination often used in Euro 2012 qualification. Benzema and Remy played in 16 out of a possible 20 matches between them, which is surely a sign that pitch time is assured when the tournament really starts to heat up.

Benzema will be looking to improve on his two qualification goals and offers plenty of strength and power in attack.

With England, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine sharing group D along with France, Les Bleus might fancy their chances of progressing into the last 16 and beyond—meaning Benzema could be hanging around for a while.


What They Say About Him

When it comes to endorsements, perhaps none are as well received as when they come from a former footballing legend.

Zinedine Zidane—one of the best players to have ever kicked a football—recently summarised Benzema's contribution to Real Madrid this season by telling RMC (h/t

Benzema has been very important this season for Real. This is the just reward for his talent and character. He scored a lot of goals and was very good in a lot of games. He has been invaluable to his colleagues and we need a player like him. Hopefully he will be important for Les Bleus because they will need him.


Essentially, Benzema is a man to be feared in the final third—as this video shows.

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