Real phenomenon Karim Benzema: The (underrated) best striker in the world

When Manchester City meet Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League, one player for “Royal” star coach Josep Guardiola causes a particularly big headache: Karim Benzema, the star striker who is as good as ever at home. career.

Karim Benzema did something last week that did not suit him at all: The Real Madrid striker, who has been the best in these weeks in his already extremely successful career, got the league match against CA Osasuna in play in less than ten minutes. Twice he ran relaxed, shot into the same corner and was surprised by goalkeeper Sergio Herrera. Stupid run for the 34-year-old. But for the man who is likely to prevent Bayern Munich’s goal phenomenon Robert Lewandowski from winning the damned Ballon d’Or again this year, and his club were unaffected by this mishap. “Royal” won the away match 3: 1 (1: 1) and are practically champions. As they enter their last five matches in the Spanish league, they are 15 points ahead of pursuers Barcelona and Sevilla.

Now this bizarre match against Osasuna was almost the antithesis of the current football truth about Real. Carlo Ancelotti’s team needs Karim Benzema. Maybe not in games that are more mandatory than freestyle. But there tend to be fewer of them in the final sprint of a season. Except in the league, this year with Barcelona’s failure. When the titles are played, it requires great moments from great players. And Benzema is one of them. In his current state, he is perhaps the best on the planet. A remarkable story. Which was not necessarily prophesied. The man from a rugged suburb of Lyon has been playing in the Spanish capital for 13 years. Very often he did well. But more often far below the radar. For in Cristiano Ronaldo’s long shadow there was no room for another light figure. He was his underrated but most valuable aide-de-camp.

And if there had been, it would have been Gareth Bale, who was once the world’s most expensive player, now the most expensive clown on the football circuit, but who regularly proves to his native Wales what an excellent player he can continue to be. When he’s not on the golf course. Now Ronaldo is long gone, Bale is still present but no longer present, and their long-awaited successor Kylian Mabppé and possibly Erling Haaland are still trapped in foggy transfer queues. In the meantime. The time between the eternal duel lists Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, who left Real in the summer of 2018, and the time until the successors announce a new duel. A vacuum that Benzema and Lewandowski can now fill. This year. Maybe next year too. Then his valid employment contract with Real Madrid expires.

There the glorious past and there the vision of a great future. It’s Karim Benzema’s time. And this time is so wonderful and wonderful that even at Real they are amazed. Although the club of course has its own understanding of a “mia san mia”, that is, an unshakable belief in being an eternal champion.

“K9 is your guardian angel. K9 is God!”

The football world agrees that Benzema has the best season of his life. The fact that the still unfinished ensemble in breakup this year is a supreme champion (despite a 0: 4 debacle in “Clasico”, but without Benzema) and playing for the title in the Champions League, that’s what the team of the so comfortable coach eminence has Ancelotti owes the French a lot. In 40 competitive matches, the Frenchman has scored 39 goals and delivered 13 assists. This makes him the best goal scorer in Europe’s best leagues, he has played equally well in all tournaments – but especially made the premier class his stage, which he could win for the fifth time this year with Madrid. And the more the fight for the handle escalates, the more spectacular the Frenchman appears.

In the quarterfinals, he smashed the luxury project Paris St. Germain with a hat trick for a thousand worthless diamonds. He dwarfed Neymar, Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Co. to billionaire idiots. A round later, Benzema crushed Chelsea. Scored three again in London in a furious 3-1 victory and was then hailed as at least one world-world-world legend. “K9 is Spiderman. K9 is Wolverine. K9 is the doorman in front of your building. K9 is your best friend. K9 is your grandmother. K9 is the president of the United States. K9 is your paratrooper. K9 is your guardian angel. K9 is God!” tweeted Spanish goalkeeper icon and former teammate Iker Casillas from Benzema’s surreal gala at Stamford Bridge.

So in the second half, at the Bernabeu, he saved his overwhelmed team from a knockout against the defending champions in extra time. His header, a force. Serious craftsmanship by an attacker who with his unique technique has lifted the finish to an art form in itself. Who has created his own interpretation of the attacker’s figure with the way he plays between the front and the hanging tip. Now loved and no longer despised. Now a legend at the club, for whom he has played 599 times, has scored 318 times (only Ronaldo, 450, and Raúl, 324, has more) and 157 winning goals. He has left behind icons such as Alfredo di Stefano, Santillana and Ferenc Puskás.

It was not always easy with Real

For many years, the relationship between the Frenchman, who still has the murky role in the very bizarre sextape affair with former national team friend Mathieu Valbuena, and the Madrilenian fans was difficult. Because Benzema was not always the savior in the game. He was not always the top scorer, but occasionally also a chance death. In Ronaldo’s last season, 2017/18, he scored only five times in the league, the fans were not entertained. He was not always the big promise he made in Madrid when he came from Olympique Lyon in 2009. Despite leaving the club at the age of 21, he had already achieved iconic status there. As a member of the very talented 1987 generation, he was considered the new hero of French football, scoring 66 and 27 in 148 matches for Lyon. Benzema is not only a perfect man, but also one who constantly creates danger thanks to his game intelligence. Who can decide everything with one action. Which makes the game seem so easy.

But it is thanks to his father that he found his way to football at all. Benzema’s family grew up in Bron, a rugged metropolitan suburb of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. A tough place, a place where many young people go the wrong way and drift into the criminal environment. Father Hafid was driven by this concern, he enrolled Karim in the youth boarding school. He went the right way. A childhood friend took the bad one. He is said to have staged the Valbuena sex tape affair. Whether Benzema was complicit or wanted to help the footballer will be renegotiated on June 30. Initially, he was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros for aiding and abetting extortion.

The affair temporarily shook his career. At the end of 2015, he was so far excluded from the national team by the association, only last summer, shortly before the forged European Championship on “Les Bleus”, he returned. His long abstinence was overshadowed by accusations of racism against national coach Didier Deschamps when he did not nominate the striker for the home European Championship 2016, despite his outstanding performances at Real. It was followed by two bad years with the royal team. Benzema’s career threatens to collapse. He had to watch from a long distance as his national team mates won the title at the World Cup in Russia. A huge mistake in his career. In his career, only the insignificant Nations League title stands for Équipe Tricolore.

But he prayed back as Ronaldo left. From a meowing cat to a barking dog. In 2010, a year after his arrival, he was mocked by star coach José Mourinho. He had literally said, “If you do not have a dog to hunt with, you must take the cat.”

“It’s like the wine”

All long forgotten stories. In the time between the glorious past and the vision of a great future, the attacker has matured into a formative figure for the Madrilenians. To the gate phenomenon, to the leader. A role for which the introverted Frenchman never got the credit, but for which he fills so much the more remarkable. “Karim is getting better every day, it’s like wine. He’s becoming more of a leader every day. His attitude is exemplary for everyone,” excited coach Carlo Ancelotti recently said: “Karim is a complete player. He has already scored many goals. ., that’s why he’s very important. He helps the team a lot with his occupation, with his dynamism. ” The ability to lead, motivate, it sets him apart from a Lewandowski, who may even be a little more skinny in front of goal, but who has a reputation for being more selfish than a team player.

If it’s right tonight (from 9 pm in the live ticker on ntv.de) meets Manchester City in the semi-final first match of the Champions League, then it is not only the old football world’s duel against the new, but also Benzemas against star coach Josep Guardiola. In big games, the Catalan tends to let his genius slip into fatal misjudgments. A question that will plague him: How can the Frenchman be taken out of the game? How does Citizens fail to be eaten by Benzema, who is always particularly greedy in such games. As he announced after his gala at Chelsea. “I do not play football to be the best in the world, I play for nights like this.” But nights like this are made to be the best in the world. Lewandowski is likely to be particularly bothered by this thought, because after the embarrassing knockout against Villarreal, he is only a spectator when the king of football is played.

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