Karim Benzema was underwhelming in Balaídos as Real Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo on Wednesday night. Looking at his heat map for the game it transpires that the striker barely set foot in the opposition area and spent most of the match looking at Sergio Álvarez through binoculars. His average position during the game was considerably behind attacking midfielder Isco.
Despite Madrid’s urgency to find the back of the net, Benzema managed only one shot during the game and that was off target. His other contribution was a skewed effort from a free kick that Sergio Ramos almost got on the end of it with the scores at 1-1. One of Benzema’s main attributes is his ability to bring his teammates into play but in Balaídos even that was lacking: he had the second-poorest pass completion rate among Real players at 75 percent, behind only the unfortunate Danilo.
Benzema has been singled out recently by Madrid fans and his numbers this season have been below-par. The striker has scored 12 goals in 26 games (0.46 goals per game) despite being the undisputed starter. Sergio Ramos has scored more goals than the team’s number nine in the league this season with Benzema having found the net just once since October 29.
In recent games Benzema has been in the firing line for his mistake from a throw-in that led to Sevilla’s winner in the Sánchez Pizjuán and his glaring miss with the goal at his mercy against Celta in the opening leg that could have levelled the game at 2-2. In Vigo, when asked whether he rated his compatriot higher than Álvaro Morata, Zinedine Zidane was pragmatic: “They’re both good.” That statement will be put to the test in the next few weeks, when Real Madrid face tough matches against Real Sociedad (h), another trip to Balaídos and a Champions League opening leg match against Napoli.