Benzema’s rematch, Madrid’s goal man

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The Champions League is back, the most important club tournament in the world. Clear, adapted to sanitary conditions. One of the most attractive series to complete the round of 16 is between Manchester City and Real Madrid, in which the English have an advantage, having won in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu 1-2. If the meringues want to change their luck, they will have to expect a lot from their scorer.

The Spanish league champion team has a clear backbone: its goalkeeper (Thibaut Courtois), its captain (Sergio Ramos), its central midfielder (Casemiro) and its star striker (Karim Benzema). The French striker, many times resisted, is now Madrid’s unquestionable goal man, especially after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure. The 32-year-old attacker has had a remarkable 2019-2020 season, to the point that many regretted the cancellation of the Ballon d’Or because he was one of the candidate letters.

With 21 goals in 37 games, Karim was the Madrid goalscorer champion. In total, he was the second gunner of La Liga, shielding the Argentine Lionel Messi, who became the Pichichi with 25. Adding up the entire season, Benzema records 26 goals and 11 assists in 47 presentations.

In the preview Pep Guardiola, the City coach, who was consulted for the good shape of the striker with Algerian roots, spoke. He used a particular analysis to placate the praise. “It is extraordinary, very good. But it is one of the list of the 20 that have come out when they ask me if he is at Messi’s level, ”said the Catalan coach.

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Benzema, who arrived in the White House in July 2009, under the wing of Manuel Pellegrini, has always had to live with the voices that say that a powerful man like Real Madrid requires other types of forwards. In this same campaign the club was reinforced with Luka Jovic and Mariano Díaz, but the French 9 remained as the starting card. One of its virtues is that it is not the typical center-forward who is as the finalizer of plays, but who intervenes and picks himself up on the court. His technique helps him in that. With Gareth Bale’s troubles and Eden Hazard’s injury problems, Benzema was the offensive leader of a Madrid that won all post-confinement to overcome Barcelona and stay with La Liga.

Taking advantage of the free days, the player answered questions on his YouTube channel and was consulted by the debate on the position of center-forward. “I never try to define myself as 9 or not 9, as 10 or 11, I am a soccer player and I try to be the best player in the world,” he replied.

A separate point in his career is the distant relationship he has with the French team. Since 2015 he has not played with the current world champions. In that year a scandal was uncovered that has not yet healed. He was linked to an extortion case against his teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema was arrested for his alleged participation in blackmail against his colleague, who asked him to pay a certain amount of money so as not to make public a video of sexual connotation in which Valbuena appeared. This event ended up closing the doors of Blues.

Perhaps that distance with the team that Didier Deschamps leads today makes him say that “in no way” would he change the four Champions he won with Madrid for a World Cup. Of course, he admits that he thinks about staying with the Golden Ball sometime. “Sure, all the time, from my childhood, but it is not something that drives me crazy every day. The term Golden Ball is always there when you are a professional soccer player and when you are competitive, ”he declared.

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