I belong to the legion of those who have considered Benzema someone with no fire in his belly, always in the starting line-up no matter what his form was like. Competitors for his place came and went one-by-one while he continued to play, even when carrying an additional five kilos. I always recognised his class (I remember that Ferrándiz warned me that he had 'the feet of Nureyev') but I was exasperated as I watched his lack of nerve and goals. That was the job that fell to Cristiano, and it suited him well as Ancelotti one day called it ‘the goal equation’, which meant that no one argued about whose share had to be the greatest. And the number seven fulfilled his requirements, as everyone knows, with his annual half century.
Benzema calm on the inside
But now, with Cristiano gone and Bale in hiding, Benzema has stepped up to take responsibility for the attack and is pushing for the Pichichi. Zidane described the situation as 'apaisé', a French word that Hermel used in his day relating to calmness and serenity. He doesn't seem to me to be calm, nor serene, words that suggest a physical relaxation that is not appropriate. Instead he is active, attentive, participatory, competitive... Zidane expresses a sense that his striker is full of inner peace, in harmony with his surroundings.
Karim keeps an eye on goal
Hermel advised me some time ago: "Since becoming a father, he has changed." Years ago his life outside football was not exemplary. He got himself into a lot of trouble, some serious, with old friends from the neighbourhood. Now he has everything in order and has enjoyed so much trust for so many years that he may have abused it. So today, at his Nureyev feet he has taken on a sense of responsibility that has him linking up with everyone, while still keeping an eye on goal, aware that everything must be done to compensate for those goals that left with Cristiano. It's nice to see him in this state of mind.