Karim Benzema vs Mohamed Salah: Who is the hottest striker in world football right now?
France striker Karim Benzema put Los Blancos in the box-seat to progress to the Champions League last four with demolition work against the holders and Premier League giants – scoring his second European hat-trick in as many of matches.
At 34, he seems to be improving in the twilight of his brilliant career.
He now has 11 Champions League goals this season – only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has scored more with 12.
He is well placed to be mentioned in the same debate as Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Tottenham’s Harry Kane as the best striker in world football right now.
The former Lyonnais is also one of the early favorites for the Ballon d’Or.
He finished fourth last season behind Jorginho, Lewandowski and winner Lionel Messi.
Salah, meanwhile, at 29, has the age on his side and continues to be a major player for Liverpool in their bid to usurp Manchester City as Premier League champions.
Topping the Premier League goalscoring charts, he is considered a shoo-in for the PFA Player of the Year award.
However, his goalscoring form in the second half of the calendar year needs closer examination – he hasn’t scored in his last five in all competitions and has scored just eight since the start of the new year.
Benzema vs Salah – 2021/22 La Liga vs Premier League
Benzema scored 24 goals in 26 Spanish La Liga starts to help leaders Real Madrid take a 12-point lead over bitter rivals Barcelona in the domestic title race.
The three-time La Liga title winner has scored seven goals in his last five league appearances and is 10 clear of nearest challenger Vinicius Junior (14) in what looks like a one-man mission to finish top of the club. goalscorer in the Spanish top flight this season.
Salah has scored 20 goals in 26 starts this season. However, his last goal was against Brighton on March 12 – his only goal in his last nine appearances in all competitions.
He’s scored just five goals this calendar year in the Premier League – Benzema has nine.
Salah is currently six ahead of Diogo Jota (14) in the hunt to finish as Liverpool’s top scorer in the Premier League this season.
Benzema vs Salah – Champions League 2021/22
Real Madrid finished top of Champions League Group D with five wins from six games – their only setback was a shock 2-1 home loss to Sheriff on September 28.
Benzema scored five of Real Madrid’s 14 goals in last-16 qualifying and his stunning hat-trick in the second leg against Paris Saint-Germain – with Los Blancos trailing 2-0 on aggregate – assured Carlo Ancelotti’s men a total of 3-2. victory and a place in the quarter-finals.
Benzema stole the show at Stamford Bridge by scoring a hat-trick again to give Real Madrid a 3-1 lead going into the second leg of the last eight on April 12.
The La Liga giants are now on course for a 14th success in this competition in its past and present formats.
Liverpool finished top of Champions League Group B with a perfect record of six wins from six games against Atletico Madrid, FC Porto and AC Milan, scoring 17 goals.
Salah scored seven goals in the group stage – including a brace at Porto and the winner in a dramatic 3-2 away win against Atletico Madrid. He also scored Liverpool’s second goal in a 2-0 win at Inter Milan in the round of 16 as Jurgen Klopp’s men won 2-1 on aggregate.
Salah started for Liverpool in their 3-1 win at Benfica in the quarter-finals but failed to score as goals from Ibrahima Konate, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz secured the Merseyside giants a crucial lead in the first leg.
Benzema vs Salah – Cup competitions 2021/22
A 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on February 3 ended Real Madrid’s hopes of a domestic double this season, but goals from Luka Modric and Benzema against the same team on January 16 in Saudi Arabia earned Ancelotti’s men a 2-0 victory in the Super Cup final and 12th success in competition.
Benzema failed to register for the Copa del Rey but scored two Super Cup goals.
Liverpool are aiming for a historic quadruple and have already won the Carabao Cup this year.
Salah scored Liverpool’s fifth penalty in their spectacular 11-10 penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea in the final after the match ended 0-0 in normal time.
On April 16, they face Manchester City for the second time in six days in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Salah is yet to score in the FA Cup this season.
What they said about Benzema this season…
“It’s business end and he’s still scoring goals,” former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“He took his team to the top of the league. They fly and he is the talisman.
“When Cristiano Ronaldo was there, Benzema had the humility to sit in the background because he knew what it meant for the team, but now he has stepped out of the shadows.
“Benzema is 34 and he is the best number nine in the world,” added Ferdinand.
“He’s on another level. Goals, assists, link-up play.”
Former Liverpool and Real Madrid winger Steve McManaman said: “He knows he doesn’t have to fly in the box. He comes in very late and his experience counts for everything.
“Every time he comes onto the pitch he looks like he wants to score. His movement is really smart.”
“He gets better with age,” said former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole.
He added: “As things stand in the race for the Ballon d’Or, he won it by a few stadiums.
“It’s unbelievable that at this point in his career he’s gone: ‘I’m in charge of the orchestra now, everything goes through me.
“He is an exceptional footballer.”
What they say about Salah this season…
“It’s a difficult time, the two boys [Salah and Sadio Mane] came back from Africa, it’s really not easy, huge pressure on their shoulders, both have to solve the problem for their country,” Klopp told reporters after replacing Salah in Liverpool’s win at Benfica .
“Their managers were also part of it, to put it on them.”
Salah’s contract at Anfield expires in June 2023 and talks for a new deal for the 29-year-old are ongoing, while Klopp added: “I’m happy with that because there’s nothing new to say. .
“It’s just fine. The playoffs talk to each other and that’s all I need.”
Benzema vs Salah – The Verdict
A tough decision between two great players, but on this season’s stats and recent form, the vote goes to Karim Benzema.
His stunning hat-trick against Chelsea on a night Real Madrid needed to make a statement underlined his credentials as perhaps the best striker in world football at the moment.
His goals alone could lead Real Madrid to Champions League and La Liga trophy success.
Salah appears to be suffering from a hangover following Egypt’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar later this year and needs to regain his form in front of goal – he has the perfect opportunity to do so when Liverpool travel to face Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.
His form will be key in Liverpool’s quest to clinch an unprecedented four-fold.
Manchester City vs Liverpool not decisive for title, insists Reds boss Jurgen Klopp