Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema played together for Real Madrid for nine seasons, until the Portuguese decided to leave Spain to join Juventus. Today the two forwards compete with their respective national teams three years after their last match together with the blancos shirt.
Kiev. May 2018. At the 89th minute of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool , on the result of 3-1 for the blancos , Karim Benzema left the field for Marco Asensio, with the victory now acquired. At that moment, Cristiano Ronaldo’s smiling greeting to his ward mate did not seem to have the flavor of farewell . A few minutes later, the confirmation of the Portuguese’s departure from Madrid would break an offensive pair that had worked far more than the numbers made it clear. Arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu in the same fiery 2009 together with CR7, Benzema had struggled a lot to conquer the role of his starting partner, they fight for four years withGonzalo Higuain . Once the Pipita left, the Frenchman would be consecrated as the perfect squire for the Portuguese. Today, three years after the final, the two find themselves as opponents in a high-voltage Portugal-France . And they’ll probably say goodbye knowing they’ve lost their best partner ever.
Open the spaces
Real Madrid have won four Champions Leagues since the Algerian franc was designated the Lusitanian’s definitive partner in the summer of 2013.in five seasons. A figure that confirms the effectiveness of the company created by Benzema and CR7. The Lyon native, often accused of lack of concreteness in front of goal, was fundamental to open the right spaces in the open field for Ronaldo, who took advantage of the tactical intelligence and finishing skills of his teammate to become the top scorer of the Champions League. on four occasions. The 7 of Juventus and the 9 of Real are, after all, the first and the fourth best scorer ever in the great European competition. However, as soon as Cristiano decided to leave Madrid, although the individual performance of both did not fundamentally change, it was precisely in the Champions League that neither of them was able to triumph anymore. The Portuguese was eliminated twice in the second round and once in the quarter-finals with Juventus, while the transalpine was rebounded twice in a row in the second round and the last in the semifinals by champion Chelsea. In summary, they both missed each other very much.
Different destinies at home
If CR7 is an absolute idol in Portugal, the same cannot be said for Benzema. Rather. After five and a half years of ostracism by Didier Deschamps due to the alleged complicity of the Madrid attacker in the scandal related to a hot video by Mathieu Valbuena, his return to the national team was greeted with joy by the French, but did not see an improvement in his statistics with the Bleus shirt. If before his return to the national team the number 9 of Real had experienced a very long period of fasting – 1222 minutes from June 2012 to October 2013 -, at the 2014 World Cup he had scored just three goals in the group against Honduras and Switzerland, without counting other signatures in official tournaments. In his history in the European tournament, in fact, Benzema is still at zero in eight matches after having made as many as 30 shooting attempts. An absolute misery for a center forward who in recent years has established himself as one of the strongest in the entire football scene.
Ronaldo’s numbers, on the other hand, are opposite. The captain of Portugal, reigning European champion, has a good 107 goals in 177 matches with his national team, and has never ceased to be a point of reference for the players who have accompanied him in the last 18 years of summons, as well as for the coach Fernando Santos . At the club level, however, Ronaldo was greatly affected by the loss of a shoulder like Benzema, the best supporting actor of the last decade, a striker with the feet of a playmaker who in turn lamented the absence of the great striker in the great European nights of Champions.
Tonight the two will meet again over 1000 days after Kiev, the last night they raised the cup with big ears to the sky. Theirs will be a challenge between expats who have had two different experiences wearing the flag of their country. Today, at the kick-off, they will probably break the Covid protocol by greeting each other affectionately, as they did after every goal packaged at the Bernabeu. After that, for the first time they will face each other as rivals, with the goal of qualifying for the second round of the European championship at stake. And they won’t look anyone in the face. Not even their best partner ever.