Madrid don't need Mbappe or Haaland when they have Benzema

Stefan Bienkowski
Karim Benzema

Real Madrid were in desperate need of a win when they travelled to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.

After an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to minnows Sheriff Tiraspol in the previous matchday, the Spanish giants were perilously close to losing control of Group D unless they could pick up all three points. Madrid were once again in trouble and once again Karim Benzema was there to save the day.

Although an own goal from Sergiy Kryvtsov was what broke the deadlock in the 37th minute, it was Benzema’s excellent build up play in the final third that played a vital role in Vinicious Junior’s first goal in the 51st minute and a very direct role in his second goal five minutes later.

Then, with just minutes left on the clock, the senior forward went from provider to goal scorer when he latched on to a cross from Marco Asensio to fire the ball inside the right post.

While Madrid fans would have cheered for the unexpected performances from Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo, they would have undoubtedly been just as grateful for the consistency Benzema continues to show at the Spanish club.

Getting better with age

Tuesday nights’ exploits now mean that Benzema is sitting pretty on 12 goals and eight assists in just 12 games for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and currently has more goals and assists than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.

In a season that has been dominated by the off-the-field theatrics of Madrid’s courting of Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, the 33-year-old forward has thrived with the spotlight aimed elsewhere and is building up a remarkable amount of evidence to suggest that the Spanish giants may have no need to spend their fortunes on a goal scorer next summer.

Los Blancos have misfiring forwards, ageing playmakers and very few stand-out defenders to call upon each week, but one thing Ancelotti can confidently say is that he has one of Europe’s finest strikers among his ranks this season. And by the time we get to May and the summer window is on the horizon, Madrid’s hierarchy may finally have taken notice.