Scouting Report: Karim Benzema

The Real Madrid striker has often been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu but showed against Cordoba why Los Blancos need him enough to offer a big new contract
In a summer of change at Real Madrid, with huge money being spent on James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, Karim Benzema might be forgiven for wondering what his role would be in the new team.

The France international, though, was one of Carlo Ancelotti’s key men as the Champions League holders laboured past Cordoba in their Primera Division opener on Monday. Goal evaluates his performance...

On a night on which Madrid were well below their best – Ancelotti blamed it on fatigue after their exploits in the Supercopa de Espana – it required the less complicated nature of a player like Benzema to see them home.

The Spanish giants were a long way from the Galactico dream as they took on Albert Ferrer’s newly promoted side but Benzema offered an uncomplicated asset as they did it the hard way.

The former Lyon star was not always involved but provided a useful outlet to combine with the attacking midfielders when Madrid got forward in a largely quiet game – and he scored the first goal from a corner on 30 minutes.

Benzema continued to work hard and teed up James for a one-two, though the Colombian fluffed his shot on the edge of the D in a moment that typified the ‘nearly’ nature of the team’s overall performance.

In the end, both were withdrawn deep into the second half but Benzema could hold his head high, having done his first duty – score when given the chance.

The goal that got a nervy Madrid most of the way to the win. Sometimes you just need someone with the wherewithal to pop up in the right place at the right time and Benzema was that man as he met Kroos’s corner on the half-hour mark.

The France international is more noted for his ability on the ground than in the air – indeed, this was the first time that he had scored with his head from a corner in La Liga – but his anticipation and physical strength did the business, with his powerful header impossible to stop.

No one moment stood out – partially due to the fact that Benzema’s nature as more of a poacher saw him somewhat isolated from the rest of his team-mates, particularly in the first 20 minutes. Hanging around the box, he was frequently disconnected from the scheming of Madrid’s attacking midfielders.

The work clearly still needing to be done to ensure that the new-look Madrid gel as a team may also count here, with the understanding between Benzema and James promising but unrefined.

Remaining at the Santiago Bernabeu for the immediate future looks by far the most likely scenario. Arsenal have long been linked with Benzema – and that talk could resurface after Olivier Giroud’s latest injury – and those Radamel Falcao reports now focus on a possible switch to Juventus rather than a return to Spain but the Madrid star signed a new long-term contract earlier in August.

Benzema has never 100 per cent convinced as a Galactico on the level of his attacking partners, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but he remains a big part of how Ancelotti’s side operate and, if no new striker is following, then he should stay so for the time being.

With a mouth-watering array of creative talent now behind him, he has a great chance to make a push to be La Liga’s top goalscorer and eclipse both Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Doing particularly well that in endeavour could shut up the rumour-mongers nice and early next year.