The start of the 2018/19 season was a real baptism of fire for Real Madrid.
Julen Lopetegui was handed the ominous task of taking the reigns from Zinedine Zidane, who had won the club three consecutive Champions League trophies.
To make matters even more difficult for the Lopetegui - the man who famously lost Spain job on the eve of the World Cup - Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus in a €100m deal.
Lopetegui only lasted until the end of October and the team were evidently struggling without the guidance of Zidane and the goals Ronaldo provided.
However, one player who has been a shining light throughout 2018/19 is Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman started brightly under Lopetegui and has taken his game to a new level under new manager Santiago Solari.
Benzema has led by example in recent weeks, establishing a potent partnership with new fan-favourite and teenage star Vinicius Junior.
And amazingly, Benzema is actually outperforming Ronaldo this season.
The two superstars both have 17 goals to their names in all competitions in 2018/19, but per AS, Benzema has notched that feat in 47 shots less than the Portuguese.
Ronaldo also owes five of his goals to penalties, with Benzema's all coming from open play after handing the penalty-taking baton to the maverick figure of Sergio Ramos - who's been very reliable.
Of course, Real would love to have Ronaldo back, that's not up for debate, but it's interesting to see just how much of a step up Benzema has made in his absence.
The task for Solari now is to find wide men and a midfield trio suited to the Frenchman's game and signs of that happening have been evident in recent fixtures.
Vinicius and Lucas Vazquez are impressing on the flanks, while the likes of Dani Ceballos and Marcos Llorente have offered young, fresh options in midfield.
Real have won four games on the spin for the first time in what feels like forever in the last two weeks, just in time for the return of the Champions League.
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