How Karim Benzema created a history in Real Madrid (Part II)

How Karim Benzema created a history in Real Madrid (Part II)

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21 Feb 2022
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karim benzema

Karim Benzema is a top-class striker. We wrote the first part of the article and it was all about the start in Madrid. Now let’s continue how Karim Benzema changed the system along with Jose.


Rotation with Gonzalo

Two top forwards in one place is a normal rotation. Problems could be drawn only because of injuries. This is exactly what happened – at the end of November, Gonzalo was diagnosed with an intervertebral hernia. Doctors recommended surgery, and after – four months of recovery. For Mourinho, the Argentine injury was an absolute disaster, because it was Gonzalo who was the main striker – he started in all 12 La Liga matches and scored 7 goals.

The burden of the main striker fell on Benzema, who spent another weak season. He came on as a substitute and scored only one goal in La Liga against Espanyol. Mourinho was furious because of the staffing situation in the attack (after all, it was he who warned the management and asked to buy another striker) and decided to launch a massive attack on the Frenchman through the press. In December, Jose constantly hinted that Karim was not a very good striker. In the match against Valencia, it was Ronaldo, not Benzema, who came out on top. Jose’s remark at the press conference: “I know the best thing I can do for Benzema is to provide match practice. But will this be the best way out for the team?


Dialogue of Jose and Valdano

Journalists caught the dialogue between Mourinho and Valdano in the hallway under the stands. “I don’t have a striker,” complained the Portuguese. “Yes,” Valdano retorted. “He is sitting on the bench.” Mourinho seems to have infected even the players with uncertainty. “We think that Karim could do a lot more on the field,” admitted Kaka. When Jose was asked about the Brazilian’s remark, he reacted calmly: “Kaka just said what he thinks.” And then Mourinho fired his most spectacular attack on Karim. When asked about Higuain’s injury, the Portuguese compared Benzema to a cat: “If I can’t hunt with a dog, I’ll take a cat to hunt. With a dog, you hunt better and more productively. But if it is not there, but there is a cat, you hunt with a cat.”

Such an attitude seemed strange, especially from Mourinho, who always treated his players warmly. Jose’s behavior can be explained by two factors. Firstly, Karim’s style of play – with constant shifts to the flank and some phlegm – did not really suit Mourinho. He preferred fighting forwards free kick – Ibrahimovic, Milito, Drogba. José loved soldiers who spent 90 percent of their time on the field fighting. “The problem was Benzema’s character,” Spain chief Sid Lowe wrote in a column for The Guardian. – Many believed that Karim really did not care. The best advice you could give him was to lie. Constantly run, chase the ball, engage in unequal martial arts. Just try to show that you care.” And the second reason is that the attacks on Benzema were political. Mourinho was angry at Jorge Valdano and wanted to prove that it was a mistake not to buy another striker.

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