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2014 World Cup Player Profiles: Karim Benzema 'the silent assassin'

Karim Benzema is a brilliant attacking midfielder in the body of a Ronaldo Nazário-like striker.

Michael Regan

His team can't rely on him when it comes to score goals. But at the same time, Benzema is the main reason behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale's brilliant season. His accuracy isn't great, but it would be impossible for Real Madrid to find a striker who strenghtens Cristiano and Bale as much.

It will be different for France, though. There, Benzema has been criticised often for his cold-blooded temper and his lack of goals. One time, it took him more than 1,200 minutes to score a goal for his national squad. The expectations are high for Benzema but the truth is he's not comfortable playing the starring role. And with Franck Ribéry missing the World Cup, everybody will be looking at Karim Benzema. He has no escape. He needs to play well and score if he wants to avoid criticism from the press and the fans.

Since he joined Real Madrid on the summer of 2009, Benzema has always fought with another player for the starting spot until the 2013-14 season, when he's played the best football of his career. He has scored 24 goals and delivered 16 assists in 52 matches for los blancos, playing a key part on Real Madrid's famous BBC trio that scored almost 100 goals on a single season. But football is not only about the stats and numbers.

But there's another option that coach Didier Deschamps could consider. Benzema should play this World Cup on the left wing. He grew up as a player for Olympique Lyonnais in that position, and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is a pure striker. Not a great one, but a striker after all. On that left wing, Benzema could make the most out of his play making skills such as find space for his teammates and use the defense's attention on Giroud to provide goals. This happened during France's 8-0 win against Jamaica.

All things considered, Benzema might now be much more comfortable without Franck Ribéry. It will not be easy for him to carry France's torch, but if he finally plays with a pure striker beside him, Benzema will be able to show the world how good of a playmaker he is.

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