Despite his eight-game drought, Benzema is the still the French player with the second highest number of goals (7) in Europe, behind Mbappe (12) and ahead of Griezmann (4) and Dembélé (3).
He’s still a long way from making up the gaping hole left by Ronaldo, but Karim Benzema seems to have more of a spring in his step following the coach change at Madrid. In his first five games of the season under Julen Lopetegui, he scored four goals, before going eight games without scoring. But that’s Karim. And despite his eight-game drought he is the still the French player with the second highest number of goals (7) in Europe, behind Mbappe (12) and ahead of Griezmann (4), Dembélé (3), Fekir (3) and Giroud (0). And his goal against Melilla in Santiago Solari’s first game has sparked some life into the Frenchman.
His role changed in that Copa del Rey game. He played badly, but managed to score (normally he plays well, but doesn’t score). The fact that he travelled to Melilla with Sergio Ramos, while the likes of Bale, Isco, Modric and Kroos stayed at home, is evidence that Solari sees him as a leader and part of the backbone of the squad. And with the competitor for his position, Mariano now injured, it’s his responsibility as a leader to help Madrid get out of the current crisis in which they find themselves.
“Big game for Real Madrid,” he wrote on Instagram after the 4-0 win in Melilla. In training the following day, he was captured smiling at Vinicius, who he knows may be one of his new strike partners. More play on the wide channels than shooting from the center: that is the idea that Solari has conveyed to him. On Saturday, the Frenchman faces Valladolid, whom he has never scored against. He has gone four league games without a goal, but is now happier in himself. And he must translate that change of mood into a goal this weekend.