Karim Benzema has reached 300 La Liga games for Real Madrid.
The Frenchman is the 133rd player to reach the milestone and the 19th that is currently still active.
That is a monumental achievement for an attacking player, nevertheless a world-class striker playing for Real Madrid, where physical and mental pressure can drain you prematurely.
Yes, that’s right, Benzema is world-class. The Frenchman’s record is exemplary, despite nearly always being criticised in some way or another.
He has consistently produced for almost an entire decade; an impressive achievement for sure, but there are a handful of legendary strikers who have beaten Benzema into the 300-game club.
Who are these strikers? And how did their records compare to Benzema at the end of the seasons in which they reached 300 appearances? (e.g. if they reached 300 games in March 2016, then we will examine their total up to the end of the 2015/16 campaign).
We’ve had a look at six legends of the game to see where Benzema stands:
Games: 300 (and counting)
Goals: 137 (and counting)
Titles: 2 – 2011/12, 2016/17 (so far)
Benzema is a proven commodity in La Liga, despite never winning the Pichichi Trophy and only twice scoring more than 20 goals.
His selfless mentality and ability to produce fantastic interplay has allowed so many Madrid forwards to score great goals (most notably Cristiano Ronaldo) – but he’s always been around to score himself too.
Titles: 4 – 1994/95, 1996/97, 2000/01, 2002/03
Mr. Real Madrid himself smashed the 300-game mark just over halfway through his Real Madrid career, which won’t surprise anyone at all considering he only played less than 30 Liga games on two occasions, once in his debut season and once when struck by injury in 2005/06, and finished with 550 games – which is still the record for an outfield player.
He reached 300 appearances during 2002/03 when his 16 goals helped Madrid to an impressive Liga win, so he’s ahead of Benzema in both goals and titles.
Titles: 2 – 2000/01, 2002/03
The powerhouse No. 9 who, for a time, thrived alongside Raul at Real Madrid, endured a tougher time of things than his striker partner. He didn’t start as young as Raul and injuries, plus Ronaldo, curtailed his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
After a brief sojourn to Merseyside he returned to Spain with Valencia where, in 2007/08 at the grand old age of 32, he finally joined the 300 club. So unlike Raul, he’s behind Benzema in terms of titles and goals.
Titles: 2 – 2010/11, 2012/13
The greatest striker Spain has ever seen emerged with Sporting Gijón in the Segunda Division before earning a move to Zaragoza where he shone so brightly that he joined Valencia where he shone even brighter (alongside Morientes!) and attracted the attention of the world.
Real Madrid and Barcelona fought over him, Barcelona won, and he helped the Blaugrana becoming quite possibly the best team in the world.
Injury curtailed his career at the Camp Nou, however, so he had to wait until his third (and final) season in Catalunya before joining the 300 club. Two titles may not match Benzema but he scored goals at a faster pace than the Frenchman.
Aduriz is a true journeyman striker who travelled around La Liga but always ended up returning to Athletic Bilbao. When he joined them for a third time in 2012, he was already 30 and some way off the 300 club.
Then he embarked on a remarkable renaissance (he’s currently on 117 goals in 295 games!) that saw him cross the barrier in 2014/15 when he scored an incredible 18 goals in 31 games for mid-table Athletic.
Nowhere near Benzema’s feats but, considering his platform as well as age, you can only take your hat off to him.
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Games: 315 (and counting)
Goals: 286 (and counting)
Titles: 7 – 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2014/15 (so far)
Sorry Karim, but you’re out of your element. Leo Messi was already the greatest player of all-time when he crossed the 300-game mark, which was so long ago he’s already part of the more exclusive 400 club.
He currently on 440 appearances, 405 goals and 9 titles – but at the end of 2014/15 he had only 315 appearances, just 286 goals and a paltry 7 titles.
El Niño was absolutely beloved at Atlético Madrid. Their youngest ever captain and, considering the club’s level, an impressive goalscorer with 82 strikes in 214 games. Then he left for the Premier League, won everything there is to win for club and country, and that was that.
Except it wasn’t that; he returned in 2015 and had showed he still had it, notching 107 appearances and 27 goals. These were hard yards, but took him over the hallowed thresholds of 300 appearances and 100 goals and let him leave the club even more of a legend than he was.
He can’t compare to Benzema in terms of any metric, but he’s held the hearts of Atleti and Spain fans in a way Benzema can only dream of.
Games: 308 (and counting)
Goals: 167 (and counting)
Titles: n/a (so far)
Another French star striker in Madrid joined the 300 club this season: Antoine Griezmann. There was less fanfare for the Frenchman, probably because he split his appearances and goals between Real Sociedad and Atlético.
He can’t match Benzema’s title total but has surprisingly scored considerably more goals than Madrid’s No. 9 – bragging rights for Atleti?
The Nearly Men
There are three legendary strikers from Spain’s big three sides that came close to hitting 300 games but fell just short. They are Barcelona (and Mallorca) forward Samuel Eto’o, who had 162 goals in 280 games when he left Barcelona in summer 2009.
The Cameroon striker not only outdid Benzema in terms of sheer goalscoring but he also won as many titles, completing his trilogy with the Treble.
Another forward who fell short of the 300 club was Atleti’s (and Villarreal’s) Uruguayan star Diego Forlan, who played 240 games and scored 162 goals, impressively outscoring Benzema in fewer games although he never won a title.
Finally Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Real Madrid as a complete player and hammered in a ludicrous 311 goals in 292 games, winning three titles alongside Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu before leaving for Juventus.