Karim Benzema’s “renaissance” seems to have faded even before it got started. After starting the 2018/19 season with a flurry of goals, the Frenchman has gone back to his old, bad ways. This has not been a surprise to keen observers. Benzema has faded badly and is no longer a world-class striker. This is a fact that has been self-evident for years now.
This will be his 10th season as a Real Madrid player. In this period, he has crossed the 20 goal mark in league football just twice. A more damning stat is his overall tally: 197 goals in 420 matches. Benzema has had the pleasure of playing in one of the most creative teams in the world
Bale is a world-class winger. However, even fully fit, he cannot match Ronaldo’s effectiveness in front of goal. Marco Asensio is still learning his craft, expecting him to get 20+ goals is insane. Castilla returnee Mariano Diaz is a good striker, not Cristiano-replacement good though.
A pattern has emerged from Real’s play this season; lots of nice intricate passing, good build-ups, and suspect finishing. Lopetegui’s plan to spread the goals around is a sound one. However, it is one that will take a while to come good. In the games against the teams they should beat: Girona, Getafe, Leganes, goal scoring has not been an issue.
It is in the tougher games that the team has faltered. Los Merengues should have beaten Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. The Espanyol and AS Roma games should have had bigger winning margins.
Bale has struggled gamely to carry the goal burden, ditto for Isco. However, Benzema has been disappointing, fluffing his lines time after time. It has become clear that he cannot carry the goalscoring burden. With La Liga and UCL chase expected to be fiercer than usual, goals will be needed, lots of it.
January is a notoriously bad time for getting goalscorers. There is no way that rumoured targets Neymar or Kylian Mbappe will be joining in the winter. The paucity of options means Benzema is almost undroppable.
It is difficult to see an upturn in the Frenchman’s delivery. Madridistas may have to endure a season of lowered expectations while Lopetegui recalibrates the side.