Late Karim Benzema brace shows Real Madrid’s reliance on the ageing striker

Emmet Gates
  • Emmet Gates
  • Updated: May 17, 2021, 18:30 CEST
  • 6 min read
Late Karim Benzema brace shows Real Madrid’s reliance on the ageing striker

Real Madrid left it late, very late, in fact, but they overturned a one-goal deficit to emerge victorious past Elche in La Liga.

French striker Karim Benzema struck twice in the last 15 minutes of the game to seal a crucial victory for Zinedine Zidane’s men as they desperately try to keep themselves in the title race.

The victory demonstrated once again how vital Benzema is to Los Blancos, as Zidane’s side had looked toothless when the 33-year-old has been out with injury this season.

How good has Benzema been this season?

Real Madrid simply look a different side without the Frenchman. Benzema has rattled in 18 goals in all competitions this season, including 13 in La Liga.

In what could be viewed as a damning indictment on the state of Real Madrid’s forwards, the next highest goalscorer is defensive midfielder Casemiro, who’s netted six. Benzema has missed six games in all competitions this season, and Madrid has only won 50% of them without the striker.

He netted a late-minute equaliser against Atletico in the Madrid derby last weekend, and also laid on an assist for Federico Valverde in the 3-1 win against Barcelona in El Classico.

As the table below highlights, Benzema’s contributions this season have ultimately kept Zidane in a job. But it begs the question, why are they relying so heavily on Benzema?

Karim Benzema Real Madrid Stats 2020/21#
Decisive Goals8
First Goal6
All competitions

Why didn’t Madrid sign another striker last summer?

If one was to believe the rumour mill, then Madrid held off on buying another striker last summer in order to have the capital necessary to bring Kylian Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of next season.

The PSG forward has supposedly made it known to the French club that he wants to move on to greener pastures next season, and sees himself playing in the all white strip of Los Blancos.

However, it remains to be seen at this stage if Madrid can really afford to sign the 22-year-old superstar. The club are in the middle of a mammoth renovation of the Bernabeu stadium, which is sucking up most of their club revenue.

Furthermore, despite posting 2020 revenues of close to €700m, Madrid also have several unwanted players on their books hoovering up huge wages, such as Tottenham Hotspur loanee Gareth Bale and, to a lesser extent, Isco. These players may be hard to shift, especially in the depressed market.

Even if Mbappe wants to join the club, his contract doesn’t expire with the Parisians until June 2022, so PSG can either sell him this summer, or hold on to him for another season.

The most likely reason Madrid didn’t sign anyone last summer is that they simply didn’t have the money available to do so.

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