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Karim Benzema on the Champions League, making history with Real Madrid and getting better with age – interview

"I’ll see whether I’ve made club history when I finish my football career," the Real Madrid striker tells UEFA.com as he targets a fifth UEFA Champions League winners medal against Liverpool in Paris – and chases a Cristiano Ronaldo record.

Karim Benzema: 'The most important thing is to step on the pitch and win the game'
Karim Benzema: 'The most important thing is to step on the pitch and win the game' Getty Images

Karim Benzema was a little overshadowed by strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo during several of his seasons at Real Madrid, but the Frenchman is commanding the spotlight this season, scoring 15 goals to help steer his side to the UEFA Champions League final.

At 34, the striker has won everything there is to win since joining Real Madrid from Lyon in 2009, but the Real Madrid captain tells UEFA.com he has lost none of his hunger for goals, and that he might even be getting better as he gets older.

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All Karim Benzema's 2021/22 goals so far

On this season's UEFA Champions League campaign

Those emotions will remain for life because our journey in the Champions League was not easy. We played against Paris Saint-Germain: they were favourites. We played against the defending champions, Chelsea. We played against last year’s finalists, Manchester City. So it proves that we are a very good team. [All this] shows that we don’t give up, that we have mental strength; a strong team that, with the help of our supporters, can turn any situation around.

There are young players [like Rodrygo, Vinícius Junior or Éder Militão] but they have already played 70, 100 matches. Some have played 100 matches, but this is a group where the youngest listen to the oldest. We give advice and they say what they think and that is how a group works. There is no difference, apart from age, but we all get on well together.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid: the latest
Watch all Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League goals

On the prospect of breaking Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 17 goals in a single UEFA Champions League season

Records will always exist, and they are there to be broken. For me, what matters the most is to give it my all on the pitch to help my team win; if I can score or assist goals, that’s important, but the most important thing is to step on the pitch and win the game.

My favourite goal this season? They’re all good and important. The most beautiful is maybe the third goal against PSG or the penalty against Manchester City, but the header against Chelsea was good too because it was beautiful play.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid: match preview
Karim Benzema arriving at Madrid in 2009
Karim Benzema arriving at Madrid in 2009AFP via Getty Images

On the value of experience

I think there are more and more players in this situation, who get better and better after they turn 30. I take good care of myself, I pay a lot of attention to what I do; I get as much rest as I can, I work harder, I find the time to work properly, and I think experience helps. That’s why I feel great today, both technically and mentally speaking.

When I was 19, 20, I was obsessed with football, with being on the pitch. And then, little by little, you realise that being on the pitch isn’t everything. There are a lot of other important things around it: eating well, sleeping well, getting enough rest, working in the gym, so many things that I didn’t used to do, as the way I saw it, football was only about what happened on the pitch.

On the prospect of winning the Champions League for a fifth time with Real Madrid

I’ll see whether I’ve made club history when I finish my football career. In any case, all my matches are important for me. I try to do something new each time, to make it exciting for the fans. That said, of course it’s my dream to win another Champions League. But we have to be really well prepared and play to win in the final.

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