Karim Benzema, the Surest of Sure Things, Lifts Real Madrid at Chelsea

Three goals confirm what should have been obvious long ago: Benzema is Real Madrid’s brain and its heart.

LONDON — Luka Modric has, by this stage, seen pretty much all there is to see.

He has won four Champions League titles. He has played in a World Cup final.

He has spent a decade at Real Madrid, embedded among some of the finest players of his generation.

He is one of the finest players of his generation. He is, most likely, neither easily impressed nor easily surprised.

A little more than 20 minutes into the first leg of Real Madrid’s Champions League quarterfinal against Chelsea on Wednesday,Modric saw something that did both

He was standing on the edge of Chelsea’s penalty area, admiring the flight of the cross he had just delivered.

He would have been pleased with it: a deft, clipped number, swirling away from Edouard Mendy’s goal, and toward his teammate Karim Benzema.