REAL MADRID

Cristiano Ronaldo improved Karim Benzema at Real Madrid - Raymond Domenech

French coach Raymond Domenech feels Karim Benzema began to flourish when he played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo 'improved' Karim Benzema at Real Madrid - Raymond Domenech

Cristiano Ronaldo was a huge influence in helping Karim Benzema fulfil his potential as a player, according to former France manager Raymond Domenech.

Ronaldo arrived at Real Madrid from Manchester United in July 2009 just weeks before Benzema joined from Olympique Lyon. The duo enjoyed a fine partnership in Madrid's attack, winning 171 of the 238 LaLiga fixtures they played in together – a percentage of 71.8%. Together, the pair won LaLiga and the Copa del Rey twice, and the Champions League four times – including three in a row from 2016 to 2018.

Benzema's new role at Real Madrid

Since Ronaldo's exit for Juventus prior to the 2018-19 season, Benzema has taken on much of the goal-scoring burden and has netted 49 LaLiga goals, provided 19 assists and created 119 chances for team-mates. Benzema's form was crucial to Madrid's title success last season, while this season alone he has seven goals, five assists and has created 13 chances.

Domenech, the man who first called up Benzema for Les Bleus, believes playing alongside a player with the sort of meticulous preparation as Ronaldo has been beneficial to the striker's career. "He had this intelligence to adapt to the situation and to exploit his potential," Domenech told France Football, assessing Benzema. "I saw him come back little by little. He was making efforts, relocations, calls, runs, whereas before he wanted the ball into feet and just play. Karim was helpful to Ronaldo. And Ronaldo helped Karim, improved him. They absorbed each other."

Prior to working alongside Ronaldo, Domenech believes Benzema was too comfortable happy to coast along on unfulfilled talent. "He believed that it was written and inscribed forever, that he was going to make his career like that and that he could be satisfied with doing little," said Domenech. "Physically, he is monstrous, but he did not exploit this potential, was content to say to himself: 'Me, I'm here to score, the others just have to do the job'. He was in that phase, and he wasn't the only one."