When Real Madrid has not yet resolved Cristiano’s scoring gap, it already tastes the taste of the abyss without Benzema, who is 33 years old. The Frenchman was absent due to injury in the last three games, and in them Zidane replaced the top three, dry on goal. The most acute episode of frustration was lived on Monday night, six days after the assault on the Metropolitan and what may be left of the League. In the first half, they shot 12 times without being able to score, which according to Opta represents their most fruitless shots in 45 minutes this year. He touches the number of shots he takes on average per complete game: he shoots the same if Benzema is there (13.5 times) as if he is not there (14), but without the French striker he scores half: he passes 1.9 goals per game to 1.
On Monday against Real Sociedad at the Di Stéfano, after an hour of error and already behind on the scoreboard (0-1), Zidane suddenly retired Asensio, Mariano and Isco. Instead he introduced Rodrygo, Hugo Duro and Vinicius, who tied at 89. The Brazilian’s goal is one of the few fruits produced by the more than 350 million euros that the club has spent on incorporated attackers since Cristiano’s departure. Ronaldo in 2018. According to data from Opta, Asensio, Vinicius and Rodrygo, the most senior with Hazard injured, do not take the expected advantage of their scoring opportunities.
The French coach is aware of the deficiency: “The important thing is to create the chances. We are creating more. Each player can improve. And especially improve the data they have. Score more goals each. I didn’t score many goals with the quality I had, and it was a goal for me to score more goals, ”he said yesterday.
After Cristiano, it is not that a scorer has not appeared to replace him, it is that not even one who approaches Benzema appears. The first season without the Portuguese, the second leading scorer after Benzema (30) was Bale (14), at the beginning of his disintegration. They were followed by Ramos (11), Asensio (6) and Isco (6). The following year, behind Benzema (27), the second top scorer was a central defender, Ramos (13), in charge of penalties. Further away were Rodrygo (7), Kroos (6) and Casemiro (5) and Vinicius (5). This season, after Benzema (17), the second leading scorer is not a forward either, but the defensive midfielder, Casemiro (6). Then there are Vinicius (4), Modric (4), Valverde (3) and Ramos (3).
Along this path of frustration, a few attackers on loan from half of Europe have also left the team: Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brahim (Milan), Bale (Tottenham), Borja Mayoral (Roma), Reinier (Borussia Dortmund) and Kubo ( Getafe).
Hence, on the eve of this fundamental derby for the future of the League in Madrid, the recovery process of Benzema, injured since February 19, has been followed with greater uncertainty. Until Friday, when the Frenchman made his first training session with the group, and after Mariano also broke, the only nine that Zidane had was Hugo Duro, who plays for Castilla on loan from Getafe.
Despite the two sessions that Benzema has been able to complete before today’s game, his starting enlistment in the Metropolitano is viewed with great caution. Yesterday he entered the list, but Zidane did not want to anticipate more: “You will see him tomorrow. We know what Karim is, and not only in the matter of goals. It is important in our game system, especially when we have the ball, ”he said.
The injury and relapse carousel has placed the medical department, and adjacent areas, under club review. The reinstatements are monitored more than ever: Valverde, in a less hasty return, returned on Monday from his loss more physically refined than after the previous one. Zidane stressed caution: “We are not going to risk. If there is a doubt, I don’t like it. You can injure yourself more. The players who are going to play have to be 100% ”.
But number 9 is not just another footballer for a team with the scoring ability in the raspas, and less for its coach: “He is special. What he does on the field are things that for me, and the people who like football … are a joy for football. He is a special player for all football fans, not only for those of Madrid, ”said Zidane.