Why didn’t he sign a 9?

A year ago, Manchester City scored five goals against Madrid. Guardiola’s men have repeated in this last semifinal. A year ago, with a bursting Benzema in the Champions League qualifiers (he scored ten goals in crosses), Madrid scored six goals against City (three from Karim, two from Rodrygo and one from Vinicius). This season, with Karim at a much lower level, the whites have only been able to score one goal against the English team. And the question came up again. Why is there no replacement for Benzema?

Five years have passed since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and, with his goodbye, also left a huge scorer. The Portuguese averaged 45 goals per season in the nine years that he defended the white shirt. Benzema has kept the pulse in this time (he reached 44 last season), but when the decisive moment has come in Europe the lack of competition up front has been evidenced, replaced this season by Vinicius (23 goals), Rodrygo (16), Valverde (12) and Asensio (12) in the best numbers of his career.

When Benzema lost his best client (47 assists he gave to Cristiano Ronaldo) he took on the task of scoring at Madrid. Out of sheer sense of responsibility. And because In these five seasons there has not been any discussion of the position. He was already 30 years old, that border where, when a contract is fulfilled in Madrid, it is renewed year after year. But the competition (and the replacement) either has not arrived or has not worked. In this five-year period, Madrid has only signed two ‘9’. Marianwho came from a rebound (executing a trial option to avoid his transfer to Sevilla) and Jovicwho arrived in 2019 after a great season (he had just scored 27 goals with Eintracht) to alleviate the 40-goal deficit that Madrid accused in the first campaign without Cristiano.

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LaLiga Santander 2022/2023

2real Madrid712257

Complete classification

next matches
Valencia – real MadridD-21/05 18:30
real Madrid – RayJ-25/05 22:00
Seville – real MadridD-28/05 19:00


*Data updated as of May 18, 2023

In these five seasons, Benzema has scored 160 goals in 233 games. A piece of information denotes the lack of spare parts at the tip: Karim has been the outfield player who has played the most minutes in this five-year period. 19,455 minutes without competition, without alternative. The next outfield player, Kroos, has played almost 2,400 fewer minutes, the equivalent of 25 full games.

Mariano, who inherited the number ‘7’ from Cristiano (for a single season, until the ‘galactic’ Hazard ‘removed’ his number), has played 1,914 minutes (90.2% less than Benzema) and scored seven goals. A bit every 273 minutes. Jovic, who cost 60 million euros, only scored three goals in 1,567 minutes played (91.9% less than Benzema). A goal every 522 minutes to the Serbian’s credit in his two and a half seasons.

Mariano replaces Jovic in the match against Inter in December 2021, the last of the Champions League group stage last season.
Mariano replaces Jovic in the match against Inter in December 2021, the last of the Champions League group stage last season.JAVIER GANDULACE DAILY

Benzema did have competition in previous seasons, in which Higuaín, Chicharito or Morata fought in his position. Sometimes winning the pulse, sometimes as a natural replacement and others as the first option for rotations. But in recent years no one has put pressure on Benzema and you have to gather the goals of four other players —Vinicius (60), Asensio (40), Rodrygo (34) and a defender like Ramos (28), 162 in total— to reach Benzema’s 160. With Haaland with 2024 on the horizon, the current Ballon d’Or needs someone to give him a break and support him in his goalscoring responsibilities. A summer in search of a transitory ‘9’.

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