Benzema’s slow start to the season proves Ancelotti’s rotation methods are dangerous
Real Madrid enjoyed a dream 2021/22 campaign as they won the La Liga title, the UEFA Champions League and the Spanish Supercup.
The likes of Vinicius Junior, David Alaba and Luka Modric enjoyed brilliant seasons, but one man who stood apart at a whole new level was Karim Benzema.
The 34-year-old superstar enjoyed a stunning campaign, finishing with a tally of 44 goals and 15 assists from 46 matches in all competitions. He scored important goals all throughout the campaign, often dragging Real Madrid over the line almost single-handedly.
So, it should not come as a surprise that Benzema is currently the popular choice to win the Ballon d’Or 2022.
While Benzema’s 2021/22 season was on a completely different level, things have not started all too well for the 34-year-old in the new campaign.
Slow start for Benzema in 2022/23
The numbers will tell us that Benzema already has three goal involvements (two goals, one assist) from three matches in all competitions in the new season. However, he has looked well below his best in all of those games, and one of the goals has come from the penalty spot.
In his two matches in La Liga this season, Benzema has missed as many as six big chances according to stats procured from Sofascore. That is the highest number by any player in the competition after two matchdays.
Having scored just once from 12 shots, the French international’s goal conversion rate stands at a lowly 8.33%. In comparison, Benzema had missed 18 big chances throughout the last La Liga season (32 matches), while his goal conversion rate stood at 21%.
Is the lack of rotation by Ancelotti the issue?
While it is too early in the season to set the alarm bells ringing, it is evident that Benzema is not performing at his optimum levels. He had some fitness problems which prohibited the striker from participating fully in the pre-season, and it could take time for him to regain his rhythm.
However, the underlying cause for the said fitness problems and the resulting slow start to the new campaign could very well be the lack of rest and rotation provided to him by manager Carlo Ancelotti last season.
Of Real Madrid’s 38 La Liga matches, Benzema played 32, with only one of those appearances coming off the bench. On top of that, he started 12 out of their 13 Champions League matches beginning from the group stage to the finals while also featuring twice in the Spanish Supercup.
When not playing for Real Madrid, Benzema was away representing France during the international break. Indeed, between September last year and this summer, he played in ten of Les Bleus’ 13 games.
While he has done brilliantly to stay as fit as he is, this amount of relentless game-time might be having an adverse effect on Benzema’s performances.
Imprudence not to sign a new striker
During Ancelotti’s first spell in charge, the Italian did not rotate his players during the 2013/14 campaign.
And while that season brought them the coveted La Decima, Real Madrid would go on to suffer several injury problems in the next term, which helped Barcelona to beat them to the La Liga title.
Ancelotti has insisted that he will rotate his troops more regular this season, especially with the World Cup set to be played midway through the season.
However, at this point, Real Madrid have no backup for Benzema in the No. 9 role and banking on him in every game could end up taking a toll on the Frenchman, in turn affecting the club’s trophy ambitions.
Also, Benzema will soon be turning 35 years old. So it would only make sense for the club to use him more judiciously. And hence, not signing a new striker before the transfer window could prove to be an imprudent move.
Five summer transfer operations that Real Madrid are currently working on
With renewed energy, Real Madrid approach the summer transfer window oozing optimism. The air in the Spanish capital is filled with anticipation as Los Blancos prepare to embark on a new chapter — one that promises to bring numerous changes and opportunities.
Following the exits of several high profile names, with the most recent departure of Karim Benzema leaving a gargantuan void in the front-line, Madrid are necessitated to act swiftly in the window. They are reportedly set to prepare for a revolutionary summer.
Currently, Los Blancos maintain emphasis on five operations that hold priority. These are as follows:
The English starboy with the world at his feet continues to be one of football’s hottest commodities. Bellingham has amassed considerable interest from Europe’s top sides, but appears to be closest to striking a deal with Real Madrid.
While the player had no shortage of suitors, his desire to play for the Royal Whites has given Madrid a very realistic chance of obtaining the teenage sensation’s signature.
According to Fabrizio Romano, Real Madrid aspire to complete details of Jude Bellingham’s deal next week. Talks are in the final stages, with add-ons as well as the €100m fixed fee to BVB.
In spite of his high price tag, Bellingham has bedazzled at the tender age of 19, having also won the Bundesliga player of the season. Strengthening the squad with a talent as renowed as him is bound to engender energy in the midfield department next season.
Karim Benzema’s exit has given rise to several top class strikers being linked with Madrid, but Kane’s name stands out most remarkably. The English forward enjoyed a spectacular season with Tottenham Hotspur, despite the club’s collective shortcomings.
Los Blancos face a whopping price tag of €120 million due to the player’s significance for Spurs, but possess an edge in negotiations, owing to the absence of a direct domestic conflict.
According to Jose Felix Diaz, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is willing to let Harry Kane leave, as long as his next destination is outside of England.
Kane has established himself as one of the world’s most demanded forwards. Interest from Real Madrid particularly makes sense, with how many stylistic similarities he possesses with Benzema.
The forward is adept at dropping deep and linking plays, while also possesses an incredible eye for goal. Kane ended the Premier League season as the second top scorer, scoring 30.
The German international appears to already have one foot in the Spanish capital. Havertz has garnered great interest from Perez, who will be tasked with filling a barren front-line, where Rodrygo and Vinicius are the only two forwards remaining at the club.
The 23 year old was signed by a grand figure of €80 million, but failed to live up to expectations. With a difficult period at the English club, Chelsea would not present much resistance if an adequate offer is presented.
However, Chelsea are reportedly demanding Madrid to put a figure of around €60 million to sign Havertz, which by no means is an amount the Merengues throw around lightly.
Still, Havertz has proven to be a talented youngster when the conditions favour him. At Bayer Leverkusen, he soared to incredible heights. The player is also well acquainted with the German players in Madrid’s squad, which will ease the adaptation process.
While Madrid yearn to reconstruct most of their attack, the club have not abandoned the defensive side of the squad and particularly appear interested in bolstering the left-back position, where Davies has emerged as a potential signing.
As Ferland Mendy faces an almost imminent departure or, at the very least, a demotion in the pecking order, Davies looks to be the chosen one to reinforce the area.
The Bayern Munich left-back is one of the world’s most productive full-backs as he has undeniably proven to be one of the Bavarians’ main assets.
According to Spanish outlet MARCA, Madrid have contacted the German side in hopes of sealing a deal. The reported figure is expected to exceed €60-70 million.
Moreover, Alphonso Davies has dual citizenship, Canadian & Liberian and with the Cotonou agreement, he doesn’t take a NON-EU slot in the squad.
Joselu has been one of the most mentioned links with Madrid ahead of the summer transfer window. As Madrid are willing to especially beef up their attacking depth, the Espanyol man would prove to be a solid buy.
After bidding farewell to Mariano and Asensio, the need for a reliable back-up striker exists in the squad. In such a context, Joselu would aid the depth department.
The Spaniard ended the league season as the third top scorer, securing an impressive 16 goals. Despite Espanyol’s relegation, he looked to be one of the few bright spots in a struggling side.
To successfully reinforce the squad, Real Madrid aim to create a formidable lineup capable of competing at the highest level. They are targeting both established stars and young individuals, believing that a blend of experience and potential will formulate a well-rounded squad.
Following a bucketload of player exits as well as failures in La Liga and Champions League, the club believe a transformative phase is essential to move forward.