Karim Benzema's incredible Real Madrid performance [OPINION]


Even if you don't care about football, read this LSDJ. Because sport has its passions that reason ignores. Across the Pyrenees, the press can't believe it: « God come down and explain it », headlined last Thursday Marca, the equivalent of L'Équipe. The day before, the Santiago-Bernabéu stadium was the scene of an event that even the AFP described as « almost supernatural ».

That evening, in his lair, Real Madrid take on Manchester City for a place in the Champions League final. Chelsea – which Roman Abramovich has just sold for $5 billion – is the defending champion. Last year, the London club had just won at the expense of the Citizens, by a short header (1-0). This year, Manchester therefore dreamed of replaying the final for the second time in its history.

The thing was not badly engaged. At home, on April 26, the Mancunians had dominated Madrid (4-3), following a hair-raising shock (cf. the magnificent “ To insanity ” from RMC sport, in selection). Having seven semi-final goals hadn't happened for 27 years, when Patrick Kluivert's Ajax Amsterdam beat Bayern Munich 5-2 (1995). Manchester's victory on home soil at the Etihad Stadium, however, produced a contrasting impression. The Citizens could not take advantage of it to approach the return match calmly. The people of Madrid had shown such resilience! The English led 2-0 after 11 minutes and would have doubled the lead on the half-hour if Ryhad Mahrez and Phil Foden had not missed two golden chances.

Real were silent and reeling when, boosted by Karim Benzema, the team went up two goals clear three times : 2-0 then 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-3. The Lyonnais entered two – including a Panenka (cf. from 20:00 p.m. to 21:20 p.m.) – to become the first Real player to exceed 40 goals in a season since Cristiano Ronaldo left in 2018.

In short, the titanic duel of the first leg foreshadowed a torrid return match.

However, last Wednesday, nothing moved until the 73rd minute when, once again, Manchester City took matters into their own hands. Thanks to a powerful strike from Riyad Mahrez, for the fourth time, the Citizens are two goals ahead of their opponent (5-3 on aggregate). Real is left for dead. The gap still remains in the 89th minute, Manchester is already in the final on May 28 at the Stade de France against the Liverpool Reds. As for the merengue club, the most successful in the competition (13 trophies), it is virtually eliminated. Madrid, who like so much to present themselves as " king of europe », already hears sounding the final whistle of humiliation.

It was then that the Spanish public, very calm until now, felt the decisive moment coming.. He knows the mental strength of Real and the historical precedents. Even if it is necessary to score two goals, a wave of unreal confidence is born in the stands. We start screaming the chorus " If it sucks! » (Yes it's possible).

And the impossible happens.

At the 90th minute, the young Brazilian Rodrygo entered in the 68th minute scored on an assist from Karim Benzema. The Frenchman straightens an opening from Eduardo Camavinga at the far post, and allows him to get ahead of Ederson, the English goalkeeper, with his toe!

There is very little time left to score again and snatch extra time but then occurs the same psychological phenomenon that when Real managed to reverse the situation, against Paris Saint-Germain in the eighth round (1-0, 3-1) and Chelsea in the quarterfinals (1-3, 2-3 aet) in the two previous rounds: in an instant, the stadium wakes up, the noise level rises, the Real Madrid team is energized and the opponent paralyzed. By dint of telling themselves that they play in the biggest club in the world, the people of Madrid end up believing it and it works as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

90 seconds later, Rodrygo offers the extension to the Merengue with an unstoppable header, before the thrust, by Benzema, who, dried by Ruben Dias, obtains a penalty (95th). Saint-Georges is struck down by the Iberian dragon, while in the 87th minute, the English had offered themselves two huge chances, with a ball saved on his line by Ferland Mendy and another strike from Jack Grealish diverted in extremis by Thibaut Courtois, whose composure was a decisive element of this second leg.

This season we talk about the "unreal" Madrid. As ignites: “Real is from another world”: “Here came those from Abu Dhabi, Qatar, the Russians, they all fell. Here, it's Real Madrid, a football club, something pure. Real Madrid have defeated the three giants fabricated with checks and who do not respect financial fair play », dares to write Tomas Roncero. « It's a joke, it's not possible », tweets Messi to Aguero. But as Rodrygo says, "with this jersey, you learn to always fight until the end".

The two bench strategists have mixed fortunes : on May 28 in Saint-Denis, the Italian Carlo Ancelotti can become the first coach in history to grab a fourth Champions League. Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, suffered a sixth failure in as many seasons with Manchester, after the two titles gleaned with Barça in 2009 and 2011. The Catalan did not look so surprised. At the end of the match, he seemed to say to himself, like everyone " it's normal ". As well as the only two spectators who inexplicably wanted to leave the stadium early and who finally turned around (cf. analysis). business as usual ?

Louis Daufresne 

source: RMC Sport

This article is published from Selection of the day.


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Summary of news from March 31, 2023

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