Benzema scores not just a lot, but an abnormally large amount. But his role goes beyond heads

Football

Benzema scores not just a lot, but an abnormally large amount. But his role goes beyond heads

In the La Liga scorer table, Karim Benzema is bored and lonely. In eight rounds of the Spanish championship, he scored nine goals – more than 12 teams. That is, in the team, and not in the individual scoring standings, he would have been in the top half of the standings.

It’s an achievement anyway, but given the context, it’s even more important than it sounds. It is one thing to be a super bomber in a stable team with a consistent development strategy, or in a super club that destroys most of the rivals, and it is another thing to be at Real Madrid this fall. This is a strong team, but it cannot be called stable, and its game is not built. Benzema scores so much not thanks to a streamlined pipeline of moments, but due to the phenomenal implementation.

First, a few numbers to prove this thesis. Karim has scored nine goals in La Liga since the start of the season, with just four chances in those nine games, which statistics portal Opta calls “clear scoring opportunities.” For comparison: Lewandowski has 14 such moments, Holland and Salah each have seven. Lukaku also has four and scored three goals, this is a normal ratio. Benzema’s statistics, however, cannot be called normal.

If we talk not about obvious moments, but about the sum of all the strikes, then different metrics give him from four to 4.5 expected goals, that is, he exceeds the norm by two times. Messi, who has been the unattainable ideal of overperformance throughout his career, scores 30% over the norm, based on the number and severity of his punches. How much his personality has helped Barcelona, ​​we understand now, looking at Barcelona without those bonus goals. So, Real Madrid does not even get into the top 4 of Spain in terms of the difference between created and allowed chances, but is leading thanks to bonus goals from Benzema.

Yes, this is a short distance start of the season. But before the season there was Euro 2020, and there Benzema scored four goals, one more than expected, which is a lot (33%) for such a short distance. You can go even further and recall the second half of last season: Benzema scored 15 goals in 19 rounds of La Liga from January 1 to the end of May, surpassing the expected goals by 25%. That is, we can say that in the course of 2021 its efficiency is getting higher – it was a great spring and has become abnormally high now. By the way, this should also be important when determining the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or.

The goals he has scored since the start of the season are difficult to generalize. Benzema wins the horse fight, pushes the defenders, opens in the blind zone and is the first to finish off. But something in common can be found even in goals that are different in structure: he is incredibly quick to navigate.

Here is the goal that became his 200th in the Spanish Championship. Note that the cast from Alaba hit him in the back. The defender loses a fraction of a second, because he first turns his head after the ball, and then changes the direction of running, reacting to the rebound – but Benzema does not react, he changed the direction of movement immediately, at the moment the ball touched his back. An amazing moment. It is a combination of coordination and concentration at an incredibly high level.

It is this combination that makes its current performance unique. By the way, he also scored the best goal of the League of Nations: surrounded by several defenders, in the fall he found an opportunity to strike. But to reduce Benzema’s outstanding form only to goals is wrong. He is not only the top scorer, but also the best assistant in La Liga with seven assists.

Vinicius Junior is third in the La Liga scorer race with five goals. At the “Championship” there has already been material about what role Ancelotti plays in this, but the role of Benzema should also be noted. Vinicius scored three of his five goals from Karim’s passes.

Vinicius’ Celte goal is a great example of their subtle interaction. Similar moments were played out by Son and Kane last fall when Mourinho found the striker a new role (and received well-deserved compliments). Now Ancelotti has come up with something similar. The scoring attack begins with Benzema receiving the ball in the half-flank and in the depth. This complicates custody: Araujo did not advance behind him, although the midfielder was also far from the episode, and Benzema was freed. Araujo and Mallo were in a half-position and did not orient themselves, at the same time Vinicius made a dash along the flank, catching Mallo in a half-position. A one-on-one exit, which was organized by two players.

If in the match with Celta Benzema took advantage of the fact that the defender did not reach behind him, then in the match with Valencia he, on the contrary, pulled three of them at once. Having received a pass in the penalty area, he made a false move, as if he was about to turn around and shoot. Not only Paulista and Racic tried to prevent him, but also Fulkje, the full-back, who switched to Karim during the episode. At that moment Benzema gave a pass to Vinicius in the semi-flank. Fulkier did not manage to cover the blow and only disoriented the goalkeeper. At the time of the strike, there were three Real Madrid players and eight Valencia players in the penalty area – but Vinicius was still free, because Benzema pulled three opponents.

In general, pulling off the defenders and throwing a partner into the corridor is a typical Benzema technique in the new season. Here is his scoring pass to Asensio. He was clearly ready for this transfer, and Karim himself was waiting in advance for the jerk of his partner and gave it to the zone in touch.

Benzema not only scores abnormally high, but is also incredibly useful as a team player. He is in third place in La Liga in terms of created moments (including not only passes under attack, but also dribbles and fouls, after which there were blows), in third place in passes under impact and even in fourth in passes to the penalty area – albeit in a nominal position it’s not his job at all. But it is important not only in the final phase of the attack. He is second only to Casemiro in Real Madrid in advancing the ball through the pass.

In other words, at the start of the season, Karim combines the qualities of several roles at the highest level. He is useful in the penalty area, but also delivers the ball into the penalty area, he scores a lot, but his movement also creates chances for partners. But first of all, of course, he scores a lot. Insanely many.

So many that Real Madrid can afford defensive problems. According to the allowed moments in the first eight rounds, the team is not even in the top 10 in the championship – it doesn’t matter, Benzema’s goals mask it. That is, of course, it is important. It’s just that thanks to Benzema, Ancelotti has time to organize the defense and there is no pressure due to the unconvincing start of the season.

 

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