With Cristiano Ronaldo gone, Karim Benzema no longer needs to play the role of sidekick
Life at the Santiago Bernabeu for Karim Benzema has been a mixed bag. None more so than last season where the Frenchman was being booed by the home faithful.
He endured his worst season since arriving at Real Madrid scoring only five goals in the entire league campaign. His lowest tally since his debut season where he only scored eight times. Many were questioning as to why Zinedine Zidane kept playing him.
However, so far this season, the story is quite different.
No longer needing to play for Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema is going through a bit of a career resurgence. In three league games, the 30-year old has already scored four times, one off of last season’s total.
The reason Zidane kept playing him, despite his goal drought, was because of his association with Cristiano Ronaldo. Benzema was the perfect partner for the former Real Madrid player. The two seemed to have an understanding on the pitch and he contributed greatly to Ronaldo’s goal scoring tallies.
To his credit, the Frenchman hardly complained about his role. The pair joined Real Madrid in the 2009/10 season, with Ronaldo already being the superstar. Benzema must have known early on that he was not going to be the main man and that is how things went.
Benzema appeared to have no problem playing second fiddle, conceding all the penalties to Ronaldo and trying to find the Portuguese even when he may have had a better look on goal.
With Ronaldo gone, Benzema now gets to be the focal point, up top, in Julen Lopetegui’s system. He has played four full matches under the new manager, three league games and the European Super Cup. It is the first time that has happened since arriving at Real Madrid.
As a whole, the team looks more balance in attack. Benzema is now another outlet for the likes of Isco and Modric to look out for. In a way, they are no longer constrained by needing to make sure Ronaldo scores at least once.
Benzema is in his tenth season at Real Madrid. He’s been a mainstay despite the constant rumors of players such as Robert Lewandowski being brought in.
Four goals in three games is a good start. The Frenchman will be looking to replicate his 2015/16 season where he scored 24 league goals, his most at Real Madrid.
With Ronaldo yet to score with his new club, perhaps he needed Benzema more than the other way around.