Karim Benzema says he is enjoying life at Real Madrid without Cristiano Ronaldo, as he can play his "true football" rather than continually serve the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
Ronaldo spent nine years at Real and became a talismanic figure at the Santiago Bernabeu, leaving for Juventus in the summer as the club's all-time leading scorer with 450 goals in 438 games.
Benzema also moved to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2009, joining from French club Lyon, and was forced to adapt his game to accommodate Ronaldo - often facing criticism for his lack of goals.
However, in his first season at Real without Ronaldo, and with no marquee replacement signed in the summer, Benzema has stepped up in front of goal, scoring 20 times in his 40 appearances.
The striker told France Football: "Before, there was a guy who scored more than 50 goals a season and I was in a role of provider.
"I played geared to Cristiano. We formed a good duo. I looked for him continually with the objective to help him score even more goals.
"Now, I am the leader of the attack. It is up to me to make the difference. I am very happy because I can play my true football."
Benzema, 31, has won two La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey twice and four Champions League trophies since joining Real from Lyon.
"There have been many sacrifices. Everyone knows that in a career there are some highs and lows and, when I arrived at Real in 2009, I was initially surprised. Because Lyon, in comparison with Madrid, is small, the institution, administration, everything which goes around the club.
"I knew there would be barriers to overcome because it is the best club in the world. And I have succeeded."