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Real Madrid fans welcome Benzema 'home' for Champions League final against Liverpool

The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool will take place on May 28 at the Stade de France in Paris.

football Real Madrid fans welcome Karim Benzema 'home' for Champions League final against Liverpool snt
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Paris, First Published May 27, 2022, 3:30 PM IST

The last time Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema featured in a Champions League final, the Frenchman was in a supporting role to the legendary striker Cristiano Ronaldo. Back then, he was just another forward in Los Blancos' dugout in which the Portuguese talisman grabbed most of the attention.

Cut to 2022, and the story has changed. When the France international takes the field on Saturday's final against Liverpool in his 'home' Paris, Benzema could cap his best season with a fifth Champions League title.

The Real Madrid striker has gone from one of Ronaldo's sidekicks to the La Liga giant's most important player. A victory would allow him — and several other Madrid players — to tie Ronaldo with the most Champions League trophies. It would also leave the France striker in a commanding position to win the Ballon d'Or award for best player of the year.

Also read: Real Madrid or Liverpool: Who will win the Champions League? Yellow turtle predicts

Ahead of the May 28 showdown at the Stade de France, Real Madrid fans in Paris welcomed their 'hero'. In a video shared on the La Liga champions' Instagram handle, supporters can be seen cheering for Benzema with the Frenchman waving to them with a smile on his face. "Karim à la maison! (Karim at home)," the caption read.

Here's a look at Benzema getting a hero's welcome in Paris:

Earlier this week, the Real Madrid icon stated he was proud of his and the team's performance. "It's been a really great season for me in terms of goals, assists and trophies and I feel really happy," Benzema said. 

The Frenchman has scored 44 goals from 45 matches with his club this season, and equaled Madrid great Raúl González as the club's second highest scorer with 323 goals, behind the 451 goals by Ronaldo.

Since the Portugal star left in 2018, Benzema has been the Los Blancos' leading scorer season. Ronaldo had been in that role the previous nine years.  

"I don't know where I'll stand in club history. We have to wait for my career to be over to know that," the 34-year-old added.

It has been a historic year for the striker, who has already helped Real Madrid win its 35th La Liga crown and the Spanish Super Cup. Benzema was the leading scorer in the Spanish league with 27 goals and the Champions League with 15 goals from 11 matches.

The French superstar has played a pivotal role in Real Madrid's run to the European final, scoring ten goals in the knockout rounds alone, including hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the last-16 round and Chelsea in the quarterfinals. Benzema also scored the decisive extra-time goal that allowed the Los Blancos to eliminate Manchester City in the second leg of the semifinals.

Benzema will enter Saturday's final, scoring 20 goals in his last 16 games in all competitions. The striker has said he won't be feeling any extra pressure because of his success this season.

"The only pressure I'll have is waiting to get out on the field," he said. "It disappears once I walk out. The preparation is the same. We have to enjoy ourselves, and we want to make the fans happy. We are in good shape, focused, preparing for the rest of the week up until Saturday. There is no pressure, we have to enjoy it," Benzema added.

Also read: Liverpool's Sadio Mane, hopeful of Ballon d'Or, sends cryptic message about his future

The other players who can match Ronaldo's five Champions League titles are Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal, Francisco Isco, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernández. They were all in the squad that won three straight European titles from 2016 to 2018.

Benzema played a leading role in the 2018 final against Liverpool, opening the scoring early in the second half of the 3-1 win in Kyiv. He hopes he can come through again this time.

"They haven't changed much for the last four or five years. We have to focus on our own game. We eliminated PSG, Chelsea and City, which were the favourites. We are full of confidence heading to Paris. Anything can happen in a final," the Real Madrid icon concluded.

Also read: Ronaldo's partner Georgina Rodriguez sizzles in plunging gown, leather onesie at Cannes

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