Benzema has produced career best form in the absence of the Portuguese great.
He told El Pais: "Cristiano's departure allowed me to play a different role.
"He scored 50 goals every year and you had to adapt to his game. He is one of the best in the world and I was happy by his side."
On Real coach Zinedine Zidane, he also only had good words: "He is an older brother for me, he is always there to advise me."