Profile: Karim Benzema
While Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo staged their own head-to-head battle for the Pichichi in the Primera Liga this season, the form of Karim Benzema rather slipped under the radar.
But Jose Mourinho is in no doubt about the improvement in a man who just two years ago was completely overlooked when France's World Cup squad was named.
Speaking during a season in which Benzema rattled in 32 goals, including one in El Clasico inside 25 seconds, Mourinho said: "Benzema has improved all-round, every aspect of his game. He is stronger, both in his body and in his mind, and understands the game a lot better.
"We know that he can be a clinical striker of the ball, but he has also improved his defensive game. For me, finally the real Benzema is playing for Madrid."
Did you know?
Benzema is nickanmed Le Phenomene (The Phenomenon)
Skill rating: 8/10
He has taken that improvement onto the international stage too, 32 goals across 2011 for club and country seeing him crowned French player of the year by France Football magazine.
Of Algerian descent, Benzema joined hometown club Lyon at the age of nine and progressed through their youth system before making his first-team debut at the age of 17.
Senior international honours followed two years later after he had impressed through the age groups and he featured at the last European Championship as a raw 20-year-old.
The 2012 model is an all-round better player, though, and after an inconsistent start following a 35million euro move to the Bernabeu in 2009 he has begun to realise his huge potential.
Playing under Mourinho at club level and France coach Laurent Blanc has brought his game on hugely and he has the potential to be one of Euro 2012's star players.
As Blanc said: "Benzema has learned from his past mistakes. The important thing is not to repeat mistakes and we believe that Benzema is one of the best strikers in Europe when fit."
Euro 2012 Stats
Euro Qualifying Stats