The French Striker is Finding a "Resurgence" in His Career After a Few Seasons of Criticism From the Merengue Fans.
LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla
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Leer en español: Karim Benzema: el mejor momento de su carrera a los 34 años
Real Madrid has won, against all odds, a new UEFA Champions League. His 14th conquest has been generated with a historical base of soccer players, since the "backbone" of the squad has been maintained with players like Kroos, Casemiro, Modric and even Benzema himself.
The latter was the true revelation of this season, something quite illogical, considering that he is one of the most experienced players in the Madrid club. Due to his tremendous performance, he was even named the best player in the current UEFA Champions League and everything seems to indicate that he will win this year's Ballon d'Or.
Even that is not all: this soccer revival is also associated with his new call-up to the France National Team, with the aim of "improving" the 2018 World Cup champion team in Russia even more. Having said that, what has happened for his excellent level and what can be expected with Benzema in the near future?
Benzema: past, present and future
The first thing to keep in mind is that Benzema came to Real Madrid from a very young age. Although he is currently the second highest scorer in history and the foreigner with the highest number of matches played, his adaptation over time was not easy, since his history is one of absolute resilience.
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The Frenchman arrived at Real Madrid in 2009, for a total of 35 million euros. At that time, he was a 21-year-old striker who had had very notorious performances at Olympique de Lyon in France. Consequently, from that moment he began to have a rivalry with another young Argentine who would end up winning the arm wrestling match: Gonzalo Higuaín.
Although Benzema played several games per season, his performance was somewhat controversial, especially in important games. In addition, at that time Real Madrid had to endure the excellent seasons of FC Barcelona, as it was only limited to obtaining the occasional League and Copa del Rey.
However, everything began to change on a group level when they won their first UEFA Champions League in the 2013-2014 season. At that time, Benzema was the reference striker, but his performances were not what was expected and he was often replaced by other competitors, such as Morata.
On an institutional scale, the successes continued. The most recognized were the subsequent 3 UEFA Champions League with Zinedine Zidane, in the 2015-2016, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons. The attacking trio was fully established, playing alongside Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but his role was almost always secondary.
And what about the French National Team? He played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2012 European Championship and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, since 2015 he was separated from the group due to personal conflicts and was not part of the historic 2018 Russian championship.
It should also be noted that, in the UEFA Champions League that he achieved thanks to Zidane, nobody believed in Real Madrid. Only their "history" made them candidates edition after edition. In other words, the group and individual level of some players -among them Benzema- made each conquest seem impossible.
And everything increased after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star left the Merengues after 2018 and with it an uncertainty also arose. Who would be the new soccer leader? There was much speculation about signings of the likes of Kylian Mbappé, for example. But, again against all expectations, Benzema accepted the challenge.
The Frenchman, who was always considered "replaceable" within the Madrid squad and was even criticized by the fans, would begin to have his best seasons. For example, in the 2019-2020 season he scored 27 goals in 48 games, in 2020-2021 he scored 30 goals in 46 appearances and in 2021-2022 he recorded 44 goals in 46 games.
This last one was a really notorious figure, since it implies almost 1 goal per match. But that's not all: his goals also came at key moments, especially in decisive UEFA Champions League games. Now, having Benzema generates the idea that he can always pull off a trick to win a game.
And what about the National Team? So many expectations. Due to his enormous level and after 6 years of absence, in 2021 he returned to wear the shirt of his country and won the 2020-2021 UEFA Nations League, scoring a goal in the final against Spain. Therefore, all this makes France even more of a candidate for the next World Cup.
It remains to be seen if he will be able to maintain his level for much longer and even how many more years he will stay at Real Madrid, as this institution usually makes replacements for its idols when they advance in age. However, there is one thing that has become clear: Benzema's season, against all odds, has been truly historic.