A notice to sign a ‘9′

Where before everything was a goal, now it is despair. At the Benito Villamarín, Real Madrid got dark again. Second consecutive match without scoring, the same as in the first 39 official matches of the season and four in 38 days. In the Clásico, the whites used blanks. 13 shots and none of them ended up between the three sticks. Against Betis, the opportunities, beyond the 15 shots with 5 on target, did appear. Valverde from outside the area, Vinicius with a complicated volley, Benzema with a pass from cameRodrygo with Claudio Bravo already beaten, Ceballos in the final hug (”I didn’t place the body quite right; It was a very clear opportunity”, assumed the utrerano)… All water. In the last third, the decision-making capacity of Ancelotti’s men is clouding over. As contradictory as it may seem, the highest scoring team in LaLiga (47, compared to Barcelona’s 46) needs a goal.

The Reggiolo coach is obviously aware. Of the “There are no goal problems, we scored five at Anfield” to the “We’ve only scored one goal in the last three games and from set pieces (Álvaro Rodríguez against Atleti), it’s clear what’s missing. We have to be more effective.”. Two speeches separated by 36 hours. From the preview against the Verdiblancos to the post-match. From the anecdote to the recurring problem. In the Clásico cupbearer, Xavi’s men used a low block that handcuffed Madrid’s ideas to the point of looking like a handball team. However, in the runner which was at times the duel against Betis, with countless gaps between the lines, the point of view, both for the kick and for the last pass, was that of a fairground shotgun. “We make one more shot, too many walls…”was Ancelotti’s lament at a press conference.

More data in this statistical rain. It is the second time in the two Ancelotti eras that Madrid has gone to zero two games in a row. Gone is the brilliant start to the season, where they added 31 points in the first 11 days (10 wins and a draw). Since then, 22 units in 13 games (6 wins, 4 draws and 3 losses). From the solvent leadership to having LaLiga almost impossible, with Barça at nine points. Although this lack of skill is becoming endemic in recent times. On January 29, after a wonderful match against Real Sociedad, the first donut arrived (0-0). A week later, he defeats Mallorca (1-0). Barcelona and Betis complete this poker of zeros in just over a month. In fact, the only goal in the last three games, as Ancelotti well reflected, was scored The bull in the derby Madrid, in these three games that have spoiled the work of art signed at Anfield, has lacked plan B. A notice to sign a 9.

A halfway Benzema

Need boosted by the level shown by Benzema in this bad run. From the club, the support for Karim is total. “I don’t want a tall striker, but Karimwhich helps us improve our attacking game… and the data is there: with him, we are the one who has scored the most goals in LaLiga. A tall center forward would force us to put in crosses and that is not our style”. Ancelotti made it clear that, for him, the problem is not the Lyon player and the entity does not question a renewal in which the player will have the last word. But the obstacles appear when Karim’s level, not in this final stretch but in the entire season, is halfway compared to the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

Benzema unblocked endless games last season. His 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 games were largely to blame for the League and Champions League double. However, Madrid is not being able to cling with the same assiduity to his excellence. This campaign, Karim is being more down-to-earth and Madrid is suffering from it. In his first 40 games of 2021-22 he added 30 goals and 9 assists; in the first 40 of 2022-23, 18 and 4, with six penalty goals scored in both seasons. Stupendous numbers for almost any striker, but Benzema’s biggest enemy is the comparison with himself.

A scenario with several options

His cult of body and professionalism is supreme, which is why when he is over thirty he has reached his zenith. But his age does not forgive his 35 years, Benzema has walked hand in hand with physical problems this season. The Glasgow knee injury, the recurring pre-World Cup “muscle fatigue”, the jug of cold water that meant his goodbye to Qatar due to a minor mishap, Deschamps through… 12 absent games that put on the table the need to get another center forward in summer. Too much nursing. Too many doubts.

Álvaro Rodríguez is already one more, but Ancelotti was sincere and recognized that The bull is a punctual alternative and not a solution (“I don’t want a tall striker…”). That Madrid signs another ‘9′ does not mean turning its back on Benzema, but rather covering its own. Until they come within range, if they really do, Haaland and Mbappé in 2024, there is a season, 2023-24, in which Karim and Álvaro as the only strikers venture risky. Matches like those of Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Barça or Betis are the best examples. The options? Go for a more powerful profile like dusan vlahovic, which would be feasible, as reported by AS, if the white team considered it necessary (over 100 million euros would have to be disbursed); or look for an emergency striker who could be a coin toss. Spring and summer will be the seasons of decisions on the Paseo de la Castellana.

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