Benzema and the intrepid

Benzema pitches against Christensen at Real Madrid-Chelsea in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.

Zinedine Zidane is not very given to sharpen his team publicly, but three days ago, before facing Osasuna, he recognized the obvious offensive difficulties of his team. “Our strength is to do things together, defending. And when it comes to touching the ball is when we can and must improve. We are going to try ”, he commented. Some problems that directly influence the vaunted precariousness of the goal at Real Madrid. This Wednesday, in the second leg of the Champions League semi-finals against Chelsea in London (9:00 p.m., Movistar Champions League), the whites have no choice but to score (1-1 in the first leg) if they aspire to reach the final . However, they arrive at the appointment in one of those sections of the season in which scoring is making them especially convoluted.

Vinicius and Asensio have once again left Benzema alone. In the seven recent games, between the two they have scored zero goals and one assist, that of the Brazilian at Carranza. Its effervescence of a month ago has lost gas and, beyond them, Hazard and Rodrygo are in their own reactivation processes. So everything has been reduced to the head and feet of the French forward, the help of the media (also waning) and the intrepid adventures of the rest, a surprise fishing ground, the latter, very profitable in some key moments.

Before the Navarrese team, in full frustration at the lack of wisdom despite many attempts, it was a resurrected center-back (Militão) who freed everyone. Also to Zizou, who celebrated in a big way. Nobody shot at the door more times (three) than the Brazilian, who scored his second target of the course. In the round of 16 first leg against Atalanta with ten, it had to be a far right and off-script from a tight left-hander (Mendy) who relieved the meringues after an innocuous accumulation of passes and more passes. As Zidane later admitted, “the one who had to shoot was not Ferland.” In the derby at home, Atlético ended up doubling a shot from outside Carvajal’s area in their only goal this year. And at the Camp Nou the triumph was opened by Valverde with one of his three outlets of the course.

Last year, even an even more edgy Mariano nailed one to Barcelona as soon as he left. It was the most extreme case, perhaps, of this sense of timing. That campaign, Madrid invention up to 22 different scorers to alleviate the shortage and collectivization took effect in the domestic tournament. In this there are fewer (16), but he still continues to find unforeseen collaborators, such as Odriozola in Cádiz. His only goal in 96 league games.

The last six duels explain well the team with which he lands in London: just six goals scored by Benzema (three), two defenses almost unpublished a month ago (Odriozola and Militão) and a means of containment (Casemiro), who equaled his best record (seven) from three seasons ago, mostly on the air. Madrid is the second squad in Europe, together with Bayern, which has the most head (16), surpassed by Montpellier (17). An example of the escapism that whites have clung to in order to continue standing. The defensive system, on the other hand, offers few doubts: 0.47 goals conceded in the 19 games undefeated despite illustrious losses, although that alone will not be enough at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea landscape does not leave much different colors. He is the one that scores the least (1.36) among all the quarter-finalists plus Barça, Atlético, Juventus, Inter and United, with Madrid only two steps above (1.68). In that bonfire, Werner’s strokes are missing, who has gone from 34 goals in Leipzig to 11 in London.

In the own goal, the bolt blue it is identical to white. So, if you look at the recent past, the return of the semifinals points to a narrow duel decided, more if possible, for details. The experience does not invite us to think of a scoring festival.

In this oppressive scenario, in the absence of rescue guests, the only certainty for Madrid in the forced mission of scoring is Benzema. The Frenchman’s career has led to a paradox: the nine less nine Of all the great clubs on the continent, he has such influential numbers as snipers of the kind Haaland, Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. The targets of all of them represent 35% of the total of their teams. Behind are the Messi (30%) Lukaku (31%) and Mbappé (32%).

A fact, that of the madridista, who speaks as well of him as he is a regular of his fellow attackers. His 28 goals already place him one above all of last year, with seven fewer games, and four from his record of nine seasons ago. But that was another Madrid, one that scored 121 in the league, runaway with Ronaldo and fired almost three more shots per day. In this, at this hour, are he and the intrepid.

So many in favor. Tuchel’s Madrid and Chelsea, at the bottom of the Champions League quarter-finalists plus Barça, Atlético, Inter, Juve and United: 1.68 for whites and 1.36 for Londoners in all competitions. Atlético, second worst (1.61). Bayern (2.68), leader.

Kicks to goal. Of this group, Madrid is the third that throws the least (4.91). Chelsea, fifth behind (5.27). Barça, in the lead (7). Atlético, the worst (4.66). The meringue figure has plummeted by almost half in a decade. In 2009-10, it was 8.02. This year it has hit another strong drop: the last one was 6.31.

‘Killer’ Karim. The goals of the French (28) represent 35% of the total of Madrid (79). A percentage equal to that of Haaland, Ronaldo and Salah, similar to that of Lewandowski (34%), and higher than Messi (30%), Mbappé (32%) and Lukaku (31%).

Defensive improvement. In these 19 undefeated games, the number of goals conceded by Madrid is 0.47. In the overall course, 0.85. Tuchel’s Chelsea average, in 22 games, is 0.45.

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