Four games in a row without scoring for Real Madrid. He seems like a long time for Karim Benzema, future Ballon d’Or, a distinction he deserved above all because he accumulated a whopping 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 games last season. To find traces of such a shortage in the French striker, you have to go back to a time when football was just getting its rights back, in empty stadiums: June/July 2020.
More than two years that seem like an eternity. Figures that would almost make us forget that in this 2022 series, the second of four games lasted just 29 minutes for the former Lyonnais, injured in Glasgow in the Champions League and returned to competition almost a month later. Far from being despicable, of course. Which does not prevent the question from being raised: has Benzema lost his mojo?
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In the last two games at least, yes. For his return to competition against Osasuna last weekend, the 34-year-old forward sent a penalty to Sergio Herrera’s crossbar, who had already seen Benzema miss twice against him last April. He was then denied, in passing, a goal for being offside by a few inches. Two match points, two disappointments (1-1).
Bar and offside against Osasuna, a Trubin on fire three days later
Three days later, the recent Champions League winner had no more success against Shakhtar Donetsk and the incredible Ukrainian goalkeeper Anatolii Trubin. With victory at the end, yes (2-1). But it did not take longer for the Madrid press to get hold of the file. brand Indeed, it sets a figure: Benzema has scored 12 goals in his last two games, without finding a foul.
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WHAT, For his part, he goes further in the analysis and in time, explaining that where Benzema needed 3.2 shots to score a goal last season -League and Champions added-, he has needed nine since the beginning of the year. And it’s not for lack of trying: Madrid’s number 9 scores every 21 minutes this season, up from 27 last season.
Clumsiness or lack of success, each occasion has its truth. But the balls that reached his feet six months ago require a step further, the shots that were clinical begin to crash against the crossbar or flee the frame out of nowhere, the few centimeters that served to make a difference become offside. Everything turned in favor of Benzema, now it is a little less true.
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It is even blasphemous in the eyes of a player who has always refused to resume his goalscoring role. Benzema is also (and above all?) the game and, at this level, the Lyon native has lost neither his influence nor his magic. “It was very good, it was decisive. He helped his companions. He was present. He didn’t score, but that’s the last thing on our minds. It was a complete match for him.” Carlo Ancelotti summed up at a press conference on Wednesday night.
If the Italian coach talked about another player, we would tax him with wanting to protect him at all costs. But he spoke of a striker who, against Shakhtar, delivered six key passes -including one in the superb play that brought Vinicius Junior’s goal and four that could have become assists- and made the Merengue game more fluid than anyone . he can do it. Because of his stops, his touch game, his turns, Benzema remains unique in his style in Europe. One day, inevitably, we will worry about the drop in the level of KB9. But it’s not today.
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