Just at the stroke of half-time, Marcelo swept a ball across the pitch from the left to none other than Sergio Ramos, who was in a center-forward position. His flick found Karim Benzema who executed a beautiful Guti-esque back-heeled nutmeg to the onrushing Casemiro — the Brazilian duly fired home from close range.

What a goal!

The final score was 1-0 and Real Madrid are two points clear of arch-rivals Barcelona with six games to go.

In a tight contest, Real Madrid’s start was scratchy but as the match grew older, the dominance of the Royal Whites became evident. At one point, it seemed, they were involved in a carnival of fluid football, which was a treat to watch and Benzema’s back-heel epitomizes the style of present Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane.

None of the fans and critics of Real Madrid liked when the best player in the history of Los Blancos – Cristiano Ronaldo left Santiago Bernabeu in the summer of 2018. When you lose a player who gives you more than forty-plus goals in a season, certainly you discover in yourself in a transition, where you struggle to regroup and find a way. Surely, an injury-prone Gareth Bale and habituated-to-miss-chances, Benzema could not be the answer to CR7!

But to the astonishment of all, especially, the haters of the French striker, Benzema took the role of CR7 and kept on scoring goals in a consistent fashion. Neither was he pressurized by the absence of CR7 nor was he afraid to lead from the front – he has not been all about scoring goals, but whenever it was needed, he dropped down to help the midfield and provide brilliant assists to his teammates.

The season of 2018-19 was chaotic for Real Madrid. Julen Lopetegui was shown the doors soon. Santiago Solari left with tears in his eyes after being stunned by Ajax at Bernabeu. Florentino Perez brought Zidane again. There was no coordination between players and morale was extremely fragile. But Benzema was unfazed by all these as he racked up 52 goals since CR7 left for Turin.

Benzema witnessed Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic arrive in Bernabeu and he might have thought, his place would be in danger, but still, he kept going. Hazard and Jovic, until today, have struggled to cope in Real Madrid, but Benzema – the no-hopper – continued to strike gold in crucial matches.

52 goals in 93 matches –  significantly better than a goal every two games on average. This is quite brilliant. Despite all the trolls, bullying, mental intimidation, and chaos around him; one cannot undermine the spirit Benzema showed in the last two years.

What about the 20-plus assists he made? What about the defending? What dropping from the center-forward position to midfield?

All these questions have an answer – Benzema is a true team-man and it would be foolish to point a finger towards him.

Since football returned to Spain after the break of COVID-19, alongside Sergio Ramos, Benzema has been exceptional and instrumental in getting Real Madrid into favourable positions in the last four games.

One thinks of his excellent pass to Hazard before the breakthrough goal against Eibar. Other key instances include his interplay in the lead up to the second goal versus Eibar, his beautiful brace against Valencia, and his game-deciding goal to give Real Madrid three points at the Anoeta Stadium. Whereas, nothing to say about the assist to Casemiro.

After the match, Zidane said, “Nothing Karim does surprise me. He is a player who can invent things on the pitch. The control, the back-heel, and the pass were all amazing. It might be one of the best pieces of play for the whole season. It was a team move”.

That’s it!


Benzema is a revolution for Real Madrid since CR7 left.

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