Madrid - Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has emerged from Cristiano Ronaldo's shadow as his side's prolific form has seen them sweep to the top of La Liga and he believes his best is still to come.
Just over a month ago the pressure was firmly on Benzema's shoulders as he had only scored two goals in nine games but after his recent performances he is assured of a warm reception at the Bernabeu against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The Frenchman got the only goal in Tuesday's Champions League win over Liverpool but it is not so much his goals but his unselfish role in attack which has come in for praise.
Real lead the way in La Liga with 24 points from 10 games, scoring 37 goals, one point ahead of Valencia and champions Atletico Madrid. Benzema has linked up well with his strike partners and especially Ronaldo who has 17 goals to his name.
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"I don't know whether this is my best moment but I feel good, working hard, getting the results and I want to continue this way," Benzema told Marca.
"I am 26 and I think that my best moments are still ahead of me. People have always told me that from 26 or 27 onwards you enter your best stage as a player and I hope that is the case with me.
"I will continue working hard. For me it isn't just about scoring goals, it is more about being involved in the play and creating chances -- sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't.
"I enjoy good football and if I can help my team mates to score then great. I try to give passes to Cristiano because I want him to score.
"I am having a good time at the moment and the team is as well. We have a strong squad and the proof is that the players that come off the bench can make the difference and that is the key for a team.
"It is important to have good understanding, we are a team and we need to help each other."
Benzema is grateful for the support from coach Carlo Ancelotti who stood by him when he was struggling.
"Carlo has always backed me as has the president. The whistles were because people expected a lot from me," he said. "I don't know whether it will happen again but it is part of football."
Barcelona visit Almeria on Saturday following back-to-back defeats in La Liga that have seen them slip to fourth place two points behind Real Madrid.
Lionel Messi got both goals to equal Raul's Champions League scoring record of 71 as Barca beat Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 on Wednesday but he is still one short of drawing level with Athletic Bilbao's Telmo Zarra as La Liga's top scorer on 251.
"The team doesn't have problems," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique told reporters regarding their recent dip in form.
"Obviously there is the odd issue as normal after each game but we are concentrating on improving and cutting out the errors. We know that there will be situations like this during the season."
Atletico Madrid, in third, travel to Real Sociedad who are searching for a new coach having sacked Jagoba Arrasate with the team standing second from bottom of the table.