Monday, May 29, 2017

Karim Benzema: Real Madrid striker’s March metamorphosis

Milos Markovic in Editorial, La Liga 20 Mar 2017

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Benzema back in business / Image via worldsoccer.com

The French striker Karim Benzema produced an impressive performance for Real Madrid this weekend as he stepped under the limelight to help his team to an important victory over Athletic Bilbao in what turned out to be a significant step towards the title in the Spanish La Liga.

The French forward opened the scoring after 25 minutes when he capitalised on Cristiano Ronaldo’s assist. Benzema latched on a bouncy ball with a composed finish to put Real madrid ahead, before Casemiro scored a winning goal for Real Madrid, three minutes following Aduriz’s 65th-minute equaliser.

Los Blancos remain two points clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga standings, but the latest win over Athletic Bilbao will have been a valuable morale-boost that will surely have a big influence on a much-criticised royal club.

The same game is serving as another proof of Karim Benzema’s improved stretch of form which comes as a response to growing criticism aimed towards the French striker.

Difficult Season for the Frenchman

Generally speaking, the 2016-17 turned out to be a difficult season for Real Madrid, not just Karim Benzema.

Having been forced to go through a big part of the season without a significant part of his heavily-priced BBC trio – Gareth Bale – Zinedine Zidane had to improvise and face a great deal of criticism along the way.

The French manager laid his hopes into the hands of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema with the later enduring barrage of criticism on his own as he went on two months without a goal in La Liga up to the match against Eibar earlier in March.

Marking his 350th Real Madrid appearance, Karim Benzema scored a brace, produced an assist and overall excellent all-round display as he stepped up to the plate for his team at the moment Los Blancos were left playing without both Ronaldo and Bale.

Benzema took the responsibility and delivered when it was most needed – which big players are meant to do in the first place – at the same time sending a clear message to his critics.

Benzema had a difficult time coping with the pressure earlier in the season with the bubble bursting in the Napoli game in the Champions League, but the Frenchman used the frustration to turn things around and go on a good run of games which – ahead of the international break – sees him stand on the three-goal tally in five games in the month of March.

March Metamorphosis

Benzema’s transformation from a frustrated striker at the beginning of the season – and year of 2017 – to an industrious team player we currently have in front of us, whose influence exceeds the goal tally, has been nothing short of impressive.

Eight goals in 22 La Liga matches are by far below the standard for a striker of Benzema’s reputation, but a scratch beneath the surface will reveal a much valuable insight, the one Zinedine Zidane dully recognises and uses as an argument to all of the calls to drop the Frenchman in favour on Real Madrid’s forgotten son Alvaro Morata.

The Athletic Bilbao game serves as a good example to illustrate Benzema’s overall influence.

Following his 25th-minute opener, Karim Benzema dropped deeper towards the half-way line, ensuring that Athletic Bilbao don’t find their rhythm in the midfield area. With his impeccable defending from the front, Karim Benzema set an example to his teammates.

Benzema movement was covering a significant area of the pitch on the occasion. He was moving through channels – in his less favoured position – to produce staggering amount of 26 crosses into the penalty area.

The Frenchman was in more than a couple of occasions fulfilling a role of a playmaker instead of a striker and his overall versatility highlights his true value to Real Madrid’s play.

His influence, however, did not convince Didier Deschamps.

Los Blancos striker has once again been overlooked by the France boss for Les Bleus’ upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Luxemburg and the friendly against Spain afterwards.

Benzema will have plenty of time to rest and prepare for Real Madrid’s new challenges however, first of which is the Alaves game on 2 April at Santiago Bernabeu.

The 29-year-old striker can be found at 5/8 betting odds to score anytime and continue his rising form in the month of March.

Can Benzema continue the fine form after the break?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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