Benzema still struggled to gain a foothold in attack, while Mourinho was at Real.  Photo: EFE.
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Karim Benzema – from the Kitten Cat


The stability over the past two seasons indicates striker Karim Benzema has escaped from the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, to become the true leader of Real Madrid.

In 2010, when he first moved to Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho was sarcastic about Benzema: “You cannot hunt alone. If you cannot hunt with a dog and only have a cat, you have to hunt with cats. I have Benzema and let him come in, but lacking Gonzalo Higuain will be a problem “.

Later, Mourinho explained in the sheet L’Equipe that with that analogy, he simply wanted to “turn Benzema from a talented player into an assassin”. But in the eyes of many fans and Benzema itself, it is a statement to self-respect.

A decade has passed, Benzema still starts at the harsh Real, despite the transfer news that Radamel Falcao, Robert Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will replace him. After Cristiano Ronaldo left in 2018, Benzema spent the second year in a row scoring the most goals in the team and gradually being appropriately recognized.

Benzema was still struggling to gain a foothold in attack, when Mourinho was at Real. Image: EFE.

Benzema has a rich life, with his passion for fashion, luxury and the super cars he shows off Instagram personal. But for many years in Madrid, what Benzema showed on the field felt the opposite of the image of a personality player. At one time, the two strongest trio in the world were BBC (Benzema – Bale – Cristiano) of Real Madrid and MSN (Messi – Suarez – Neymar) of Barcelona.

Compared to the remaining five names, Benzema is most humble. Having landed at the Bernabeu in the 2009-2010 season like Ronaldo, Benzema has always witnessed the Portuguese team lead Real’s scoring list for nine seasons. Neutral audiences can easily rewind in the heads of Ronaldo and Bale’s rebound bikes against Juventus and Liverpool, but not everyone remembers that Benzema also had a superb hook hook against Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League. year 2012.

Benzema himself admitted this RMC Sport: “Bale is a rocket, and Cristiano is a goalscoring machine. On the line, I’m the link that makes it all work. The one who finish will be Cristiano, and I have a different role. My play is natural. about building shadows and trying to create lots of gaps. “

Even in the period of extreme Real with three consecutive European championships, Benzema is still not properly appreciated. In October 2017, former striker Gary Lineker put the issue on Twitter Individual: “Is Benzema overestimated?” He said that Benzema is a “pretty but not excellent player, because the goals he scored for a super strong team like Real are nothing special”.

Lineker’s opinion was quickly rejected by Zinedine Zidane. The French coach said: “I am indignant for Karim. To me, he is the best striker in the world, far ahead of people in the same position. People think that playing at number 9 in Madrid must score 50, 60 goals. Karim will not score 60 goals, instead he will score 25, 30 goals and make way for another 30 or 40 goals so I am very upset when people talk about my students, even though this can’t be avoided “.

During Ronaldo's nine years at Real Madrid, Benzema was always happy with the task of creating space for superstar teammates to score goals.  Photo: Reuters.

During the nine years of Ronaldo at Real Madrid, Benzema has always been happy with the task of creating a space for the team to score goals. Image: Reuters.

When Zidane mentioned Benzema’s ability to “clear the way”, he did not merely mention the creation even though the player born in 1987 had magical moments like in the semi-final second leg of the 2016-2017 Champions League. At home, Atletico Madrid scored twice in the first 16 minutes and played with high spirits to equalize the 3-0 difference in the first leg. In the 42nd minute, Benzema received the ball from the left line and dribbled past three Atletico players, contributing to the goal to shorten the score to 2-1 of Isco. Thanks to the magic ball from Benzema, Real got the golden goal on the away field and straight to the final.

What Zidane noted at Benzema is how he was willing to sacrifice to help Ronaldo and Bale play sublimated. The highest kick in the Real attack of the CR7 era, Benzema brings the pairing people to get a gap thanks to the ability to move smart and suck defenders. Benzema’s skill in making walls, keeping the ball and connecting routes is not only appreciated by Zidane. During his brief period at Real, Carlo Ancelotti once remarked that he “liked what Benzema did, besides the goals”.

Frequent criticism of his ability to score goals against super teammates and scrutiny about his personal life made Benzema seldom respond to Spanish and French sports newspapers. On a rare occasion for an interview in 2018, he chose the newspaper Vanity Fair specializing in lifestyle. Benzema said: “I don’t like the way people attack me when I play well but I don’t score goals. I play football because people who understand the value of what I do on the pitch. Those who come to the field just to whistle will still whistle. flute. Great players like us are always criticized, because that’s why we can sell the newspaper. “

According to the The Athletic, Benzema almost left after the 2017-2018 season with just five goals in 32 games in Liga. The small number of goals mentioned above plus the fact that he has turned 30 years old makes Real linked with many talented strikers. If Benzema were to leave then, he would probably have been recognized as a player who contributed to the collective success of the team instead of the true leader in attack.

Eventually, in the summer of 2018, the bombing machine Ronaldo left. And thanks to that, Benzema was handed back the seal of leading Real attack.

Benzema came to Real from the age of 21 and in nine years of playing with Ronaldo, he only scored twice more than 20 goals in La Liga, in seasons 2011-2012 and 2015-2016. But in the two years after Ronaldo, the French striker scored 21 goals, even when the 2018-2019 season was a disaster with three different coaches sitting on hot seats.

This season, Benzema even competed for the title of top scorer with Lionel Messi – the winner with 25 goals. But unlike Messi, Benzema is not a priority for 11m penalties. The one who stood before the penalty spot in important moments at Real was captain Sergio Ramos. If Benzema was awarded Ramos’ six penalty kicks in the Liga and succeeded, it was he who was the top scorer.

Benzema doesn’t mind that, because for him the championship is the important thing. On Real’s unbeaten journey when football returned after a break, Benzema scored seven goals. But as usual, he not only brought goals. On the Espanyol pitch, he cleverly heeled to help Casemiro to score the only goal in the match that Real won so hard. These three points are a turning point for the two-horse race, because Barca was suddenly surprised by Celta Vigo 2-2 not long ago.

In addition to watching tables, Benzema also showed a return to creativity.  Pictured is his backheeling backstage, clearing the deck for Casemiro to shoot down Espanyol.  Photo: AP.

In addition to watching tables, Benzema also showed a return to creativity. Pictured is the back-heeling phase with his eyes behind, clearing the deck for Casemiro to “shoot down” Espanyol. Image: AP.

A creative kick across the opponent’s groin is a powerful demonstration of the description “number 9 with soul number 10” that Benzema commented on himself. After all, no player can survive more than a decade in the most demanding environment in football like Real without outstanding talent. In terms of goals, he is ranked fifth in the history of the Royal team with 248 goals over 512 matches, achieving 0.48 goals / match and ranked on the stars Ferenc Puskas, Hugo Sanchez or “Aliens” Ronaldo.

He also surpassed Ronaldo’s old 131-phase record in February 2020 to become the most successful creator in Real history. The current number of Benzema is 135 – astonishing for a striker. The above statistics plus the real glory earned enough to turn any player into a team legend. But Benzema has accepted Ronaldo’s sacrifice for too long, now it is really widely recognized.

Last season showed how the “cat” became a horse. Benzema kicked up the expensive Luka Jovic contract on the bench, carrying the attack when Eden Hazard, Marco Asensio were injured, Vinicius and Rodrygo were too young, Bale and James Rodriguez were not respected, and Mariano was not enough. . Confidence with Benzema is redundant, as he compared his colleague Olivier Giroud: “We should not be confused between a Formula 1 car like me with a go-kart.”

The arrogant statement on the stage was a bit sour, because Giroud was the one who lifted the World Cup although his talent was underestimated than Benzema. If there is something missing in Benzema’s career then it is success at the team level. When France possessed a quality team that reached the final of Euro 2016 and won the World Cup in 2018, Benzema had to sit at home watching TV on suspicion of blackmailing his former teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

There is no way back to France as long as Didier Deschamps is in office, Benzema only has the opportunity to show in the Real shirt. After making a big contribution to the La Liga championship, the Champions League is the next arena that needs him to shine. In front of Real is the second leg against Man City, after losing 1-2 in the first leg.

After the La Liga championship, Benzema is waiting to inspire Real to overcome another rapids, called Man City, to go deeper on the road to conquering the Champions League.  Photo: Reuters.

After the La Liga championship, Benzema is waiting to inspire Real to overcome another rapids, called Man City, to go deeper on the road to conquering the Champions League. Image: Reuters.

Benzema has secured the number of goals, now the quality. What made Ronaldo a legend at Real and the number one symbol in attack is how he shined in big matches in the Champions League, helping Los Blancos make history. The best memories of Ronaldo at Real are always associated with shining moments, the record scoring at the continent’s largest playground.

Now is the time for Benzema.

Thinh Joey

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