REAL MADRID

Jovic: Benzema injury offers Serb time to shine in Super Cup

With the absence of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, Luka Jovic will will serve as Madrid’s greatest offensive hope in Saudi Arabia.

Jovic: Benzema injury offers Serb time to shine in Super Cup
JUAN MEDINA REUTERS

The injuries to Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema have left a clear path for Luka Jovic, who is set for a great opportunity to prove himself in the Super Cup semi-final against Valencia in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

It was for games and rare situations like this (with Bale and Benzema out) that Real Madrid paid 60 million euros last summer for the talented Serbian, who managed an impressive 27 goals for Frankfurt last season.

Without Benzema, Madrid’s top scorer with 16 goals across all competitions, Jovic is the main alternative for Zidane at centre forward. Although the 22-year-old is yet to find his stride since making the switch to Madrid.

So far he has only managed one goal in 15 appearances, with everything imaginable stopping him from adding to his single-goal tally – from his own lack of connection with his team mates (he is having a hard time picking up Spanish), to the posts (which he has hit twice, against Valladolid and Athletic) and onto VAR, which has ruled out two of his goals against Osasuna and Leganés.

And to top it off, the Serbian national team has not offered any solace. His fall-out with coach Ljubisa Tombakovic seems irreparable in the short term, although the Madrid forward did meet with the sports director of the Serbian federation while on vacation. “Jovic's problem is Jovic,” Tombakovic said a few days ago.

Jovic comes on for Benzema in the 3-0 win against Getafe.

Jovic leads the pecking order in Benzema's absence

But now Jovic will serve as Madrid’s greatest offensive hope in Jeddah, with his only competition in the centre forward position represented by Rodrygo, who can also play as a false nine (as he did sometimes at Santos), James Rodriguez, and Mariano, who, due to the injuries of Bale and Benzema, has been called up but has long been crossed out of Zidane's mind. (The Spanish-Dominican forward has seen himself left out of the squad for 24 of 25 games this season).

Without Benzema, the goal-scoring responsibilities in the new-look Spanish Super Cup will fall on Jovic.