After Real Madrid's last game against Liverpool , Cristiano Ronaldo entered the Kiev Olympic locker room and found Juan Carlos I: "You can't score in all the finals," he unburdened himself to the king emeritus. It was May 26, 2018, the night Madrid lifted its thirteenth European Cup; also the night in which the Portuguese, before anyone else, knew that the BBC had died. It was a final and also a final, hence the lament of Cristiano , who could not score in the last performance of one of the most successful and prolific strikers in football history: in the five seasons that coincided in white, CR, Benzema and Bale scored 442 goals and won four Champions. Since that game against Liverpool to this Tuesday's first leg of the quarterfinals at the Di Stéfano, the Madridistas have gone through 1,046 days of longing, while waiting for the next golden forward
The wait is proving tortuous, with hardly any straight lines since the celebration in which the Portuguese warned that he was leaving, Bale began to drop and Zidane began to leave. So much so that Zidane had to return and the discreet greening of the attack registered in recent weeks is commanded by Benzema, who opened the scoring that night in Kiev and has scored in the last seven games (nine goals), his best streak since reaching the Madrid.
The deployment of the Frenchman also coincides with the latest rebirth of Marco Asensio, who has seen the door in the last three league games, and with some stabilization of the contributions of Vinicius Jr. and of his relationship with Benzema, whom he has given five of his last ten assists, the most recent on Saturday against Eibar. After the meeting, the Frenchman posted a photo of the two hugging on Instagram and wrote: "Pure football, Vini Jr., little brother." The Brazilian replied in his profile with the same photo, a heart and a "crack" dedicated to 9.
Until reaching this point of harmony, their relationship had to overcome last October an intense crisis captured by Telefoot cameras during the Borussia Mönchengladbach-Real Madrid break. "He does what he wants. Brother, don't play with him … Oh my god. Play against us, ”Benzema complained to Mendy in French in the locker room tunnel.
That episode, along with the point of suspicion with which Zidane has contemplated it for quite some time, caused Vinicius's enormous confidence to falter, according to they then recognized sources close to the player. The Brazilian began to look more backward than forward when receiving the ball and became much more timid in dribbling. Before he probed who could give it to the side – better if it was Benzema – than the space that used to attack the back of the defender who stood in front of him.
Interview | Vinicius: "Dribbling is easier than a goal"
It began to revive in early February with an assist from the right that the Frenchman headed for a goal against Getafe, and continued to take shape when Benzema was injured shortly before visiting Atalanta in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. There, in Bergamo, he signed a correct match, which was above all the pass with which he left Mendy alone against Freuler, who knocked down the Frenchman and was sent off. In the next match, against Real at home, he came off the bench and tied the game in the 89th minute in his 100th game with Real Madrid.
Benzema returned for the derby at the Metropolitano, and there Vinicius left him alone against Oblak with a precise touch of exterior; as on the following day against Elche at Di Stéfano, where after a cross from the Brazilian's right, the Frenchman found himself face to face with Edgar Badía. Although those goals escaped him.
In the return against Atalanta in Madrid, the ascending sequence of Vinicius oscillated between reaching the summit and crashing , uncertainty very typical of the vertigo that characterizes him. After a string of dribbles down the middle, he missed the shot when he got in front of the goalkeeper. Benzema covered his face with his hands, Ramos collapsed on the grass and he got caught in the goal net. But immediately he faced again and caused a penalty that reconciled him with everyone
"Zidane has ended up surrendering to him," says a source close to the noble floor of the Valdebebas office building, who explains that this vertigo that sometimes ends in failure is also the one that allows rivals to be disordered. There is hardly another footballer in the squad with a capacity close to his for the imbalance. In this they coincide with the Brazilian's environment, who believes that the coach values more at the moment the different point that he brings to the team. In addition, they point out that Vinicius looks faster these weeks, after having lowered the weight load in the gym that had caused him to feel heavier. PP Zidane also believes that Benzema is in harmony with the companions around him: "Everyone the players understand Karim very well, and Karim everyone else. The consequence is what is happening in the field. There is a lot of chemistry between them, and you can see it on the pitch, "he said yesterday.
To the reconciliation Benzema-Vinicius, Asensio has joined with goals in the last three games, after a season of ups and downs in which he managed to link six League matches without shooting or trying to dribble, or 14 shots without a prize in the Champions League , according to Opta, the player from all over Europe who finished the most without scoring. "Now he sees himself on a streak of good feelings after these two weeks of break," says a source close to Asensio, who believes that he is in his best moment of confidence in a course in which he takes three shots to the post, so many as in his previous four seasons in white. Green shoots at the gates of the 11 decisive days of the course for Real Madrid.
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