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Benzema-Mbappé partnership offers endless potential

Since Karim Benzema's return to the France fold in May, he has formed a special bond with Kylian Mbappé that continues to grow stronger both on and off the pitch.

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Benzema-Mbappé partnership offers endless potential
FRANCK FIFE AFP

Eleven games after his return to the French national team, Karim Benzema lifted his first trophy with Les Bleus, which marked the 27th title of the 33-year-old’s career.

After Mikel Oyarzabal had opened the scoring for Spain in the 64th minute, Benzema responded almost immediately with a stunning curling strike from the edge of the box to draw things level. Later, his strike partner Kylian Mbappé stepped up in the 80th minute to secure the winner for Didier Deschamps’ side.

But beyond Benzema’s first title win with France, what has become clear after his first 11 games following his return from international exile, is the endless potential of the partnership he has formed with Mbappé. Of the five goals that the French team has scored in this tournament, four bear their stamp: two each and in the two games they have played in the Nations League.

Their relationship on the pitch grew even closer against Spain: Benzema always looked for Mbappé, and Mbappé always looked for Benzema. The Real Madrid forward gave 22 successful passes in attack, seven of which (31.8%) were played to Mbappé. For his part, the PSG strike gave 14 successful passes, six of them (42.9%) to Benzema. This incredible connection will have Madrid dreaming of the pair teaming up at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Benzema: I would like Mbappé at Real Madrid

“Mbappé and I get along very well on and off the pitch, and it is clear that I would like him to be with me at Real Madrid, which is the best team in the world, but you have to respect his club,” Benzema explained after France’s World Cup qualifier against Bosnia on 1 September.

Since Benzema’s return to the French fold in May, the pair have undeniably formed a special bond. They are always seen together both on and off the training ptich, while their connection on the field of play has continued to grow stronger.

Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema celebrate with the trophy at the end of the Nations League final football match between Spain and France at San Siro stadium in Milan, on October 10, 2021.

Mbappé has found a perfect older brother figure in Benzema. And the 33-year-old did not hesitate to give the ball to Mbappé to take the penalty won by Antoine Griezman in the Nations League semi-final against Belgium last week. Benzema took the ball, gave it to Mbappé and said, "You go." Kylian converted the spot kick, after previously assisting Benzema in France’s opening goal.

That served as a way for Mbappé to banish the ghosts that had haunted him since the Euro Championships in the summer, where his shootout miss against Switzerland in the last-16 saw France eliminated from the tournament at the hands of their smaller neighbours. In the game against Belgium last week.

Mbappé's big decision pending

The pair’s partnership has blossomed quickly at the international level and they hope to one day play together at Real Madrid. But whether that happens is completely up to Mbappé, who must decide to either renew his contract with PSG or sign for Madrid. Come January he will be able to sign for any team he wants, at which point there will be just six months left on his current deal with PSG.