I admit being a member of the "Benzema-sceptic" movement. I've always admired his talent but always felt that he could offer more as a player. "He has the grace of Nureyev", I was once told by an old friend but he also enjoys special protection form the club president and I'd go as far as to say that Real Madrid have never been so self indulgent with a player as they have been with the French striker. No other player has been afforded a guaranteed place in the starting line-up as he has, with possibly Gareth Bale being the other exception.
Today is a day to give credit where credit is due and his build-up play ahead of the Real Madrid goal on Tuesday will be a long lasting image for many. It's a move that was uncharacteristically graceful in what was an abrasive first half of football at the Calderon. The striker picked up the ball following a Cristiano throw-in and then with amazing skill bypassed three Atlético defenders with unbelievable dexterity. A photo capturing the moment is simply stunning, a grey sky and a packed Calderon witnessing the last euro-derby at the old stadium and the four players, one clad in black, the other three in the iconic Atleti "rojiblanco".
Long lasting image
It reminded me of other iconic moves from Madrid players of old. Butragueño's skill against Cádiz, Redondo's flick at Old Trafford or even Guti's back-heel at Riazor to set up Benzema. Moves that fire up the imagination just by closing ones eyes. Those particular moves have never been captured so beautifully on camera as the Benzema move which was snapped by a Getty Images photographer. The image of the French striker with the Calderon as a backdrop will form part of the pictorial history at Real Madrid and as of today I'll look at the striker in a different way.