Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given his thoughts on the Frenchman's prolific goalscoring exploits. 'Le Professor' credits the Real Madrid striker's weight loss as the major reason behind the impressive numbers he has managed since entering his 30s.
Speaking on the BT Sport network, via Daily Mail, after the Spanish side's victory against Manchester City in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday (May 4), Wenger said:
"Benzema, I would say, until 30, had two or three kilos too many. Now he's a real athlete and that's why today, certainly, he's one of the two or three best strikers in the world."
The 72-year-old, who during his time at Arsenal coached superb strikers like Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, praised Benzema for his reading of the game and execution. Wenger added:
"I would say he's a demonstration of intelligence and efficiency. Everything he does is intelligent and looks simple. When I see him play, I think I could do the same. He smells the rhythm of the game like nobody else."
Man City were leading 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate thanks to a strike from Riyad Mahrez in the 73rd minute. The Real Madrid No. 9 assisted Rodrygo for Madri's first goal in the 90th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Brazilian scored again a minute later to take the game into extra-time.
Benzema then won a penalty in extra-time and confidently converted it to send Los Blancos to the Champions League final.
On Wednesday, Benzema scored his 43rd goal of the season across all competitions in as many appearances and Carlo Ancelotti's side completed yet another comeback. Los Blancos previously had comeback wins against PSG and Chelsea in the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals, respectively
Manchester City were firm favorites to progress to the finals against Real Madrid. However, the La Liga champions turned the tie on its head in unbelievable fashion at home against City.
Mo Salah gets his wish as Real Madrid set up final against Liverpool in Paris
Liverpool booked their berth in the UCL final by getting the better of Villarreal at the Estadio de la Cerámica on Tuesday (May 3).
Although many around the world were anticipating a Man City vs Liverpool Champions League showdown, Reds forward Mohamed Salah had a different wish. Speaking after the Villarreal game on BT Sport, the Egypt international said:
“I want to play Madrid. It’s personal. City is a really tough team. Personally, I would prefer Madrid because we lost in the final so I want to play against them and hopefully win it from them.”
The 29-year-old's wish has been granted as Carlo Ancelotti's side knocked out Pep Guardiola's side to book their place in the final. The two sides met in the 2018 UCL final where Salah had to be substituted in the 30th minute due to an injury. The Liverpool forward is hungry for revenge now and tweeted:
"We have a score to settle."