Karim Benzema’s a Real magician… he cast a spell & the ball came to him

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Karim Benzema (left) and Tony Kroos (right) celebrate the winner for Real Madrid, Sevilla, Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, 18 April 2022.

Karim Benzema has done it again. Late on a sweltering hot Easter Sunday night, he struck against Sevilla to march Real Madrid one step closer to their inevitable return to the top of Spanish football.

Whilst millions across the world celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Madristas across Spain heralded their own King who continues to lead them from the front.

Upon what was once a vacated throne, Benzema now sits, holding his court in the Bernabeu. His goal against Sevilla showed that even the ball prostrates for him.

It was a remarkable match. At 2-0 down, Madrid were on the back foot. A stunning Ivan Rakitic free-kick, an Erik Lamela tap-in, and within 24 minutes it seemed evident that the mid-week battle against Chelsea was taking its toll.

Yet just like in that match, and the PSG one before it, Madrid showed their mythical powers of recovery. Young Rodrygo made it 2-1, and then in the 82nd Nacho brought things level.

With the stage set for a dramatic winner, there was always only one man who was going to seize it, just as he has all season.

In fact, to say Benzema seized it would be wrong. These moments come to him, rather than him going to them. He has a magnetic quality of total footballing regality that makes the headline-making moments inevitably his.

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Karim Benzema playing for Real Madrid, Lionel Messi for PSG and Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United, all in the 2021-22 Champions League.

READ: How Karim Benzema’s UCL record compares to Messi & Ronaldo’s

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Likewise, he didn’t need to seek out the ball for his winner against Sevilla, for it is bound to him by some gravitational force.

He started the move himself, because of course he did. Receiving the ball on the right, he sauntered forward before laying it off to Vinicius Junior, who played it to Rodrygo out wide.

All the while, Benzema was walking forward. He snuck into the box, slipping quietly in between the Sevilla defenders whose eyes were fixated on the ball at Rodrygo’s feet.

They hadn’t noticed the turquoise shirt of Benzema slide perfectly into the space vacated by Sevilla’s centre-backs, and they wouldn’t until it was too late.

As Rodrygo went further and further into the Sevilla box, getting closer and closer to the byline as he did so, the white shirts of the home side panicked and flapped around like a group of seagulls desperately fighting over the last chip from a discarded seaside lunch.

But Benzema stood still as the chaos unfurled around him.

Such was his body language, he may as well have taken out a cigarette and read the paper in between the occasional glance at his watch. He knew the ball would come to him, it was just a matter of time. And when it eventually made his way to him, he knew he would score.

Rodrygo, having successfully pulled in all the Sevilla players, unleashed a simple cut back to Benzema. He put out his cigarette rolled his newspaper under his arm like his train had just pulled into the station, and got to work.

By now Sevilla’s players had just realised what was happening. For one brief moment, they shared a single, collective thought: ‘Shit.’

It was too late. One touch to steady himself, another just because he wanted to make the white shirts flinch, and a third to send the ball emphatically into the back of the net. Sensationnel.

Age has suited Benzema. With the wealth of experience he has, he doesn’t need to run but can position himself where he knows the ball will be.

Around him, he has cultivated a series of youngsters who can do the running for him while he waltzes into dangerous positions.

Kylian Mbappe will likely be another to join the fold from next season, alongside Vinicius Junior who has taken on the role of Hand of the King to Benzema.

Just look at his winning goal against Chelsea, where Vinicius was able to cross the ball for Benzema to head in.

That was no accident: Benzema was videoed just before extra time quite literally telling his young partner exactly where he would be and where he should aim to cross the ball. Minutes later, it played out exactly how the 34-year-old planned.

He’s now scored an incredible 25 La Liga goals, his best return ever, and got 11 assists too… in 28 games. Add on the casual 12 goals in the Champions League and two in the Supercopa and he’s scored an awe-inspiring total of 39 this season.

But for all the planning and on-field tactical explaining in the world, nothing can quite explain what Benzema has done this season.

Simply put, the ball is sometimes just destined to end up with him. It recognises the inevitability of him scoring, and just decides to hurry the process along by getting there quicker.

Watch his third goal against PSG for example, when the ball falls perfectly to him, and tell us that there’s not something magical about it.

So, all hail King Benzema, the rightful holder of the Bernabeu throne.

By the end of the year, he could be a Ballon d’Or and World Cup winner. And why not? Gold suits royalty.

By Patrick Ryan


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