By Dominic Vieira, writing from Lancaster, England
French fortunes and MARCA headlines are radically transforming throughout the Spanish capital as Real Madrid’s golden Cristiano Ronaldo remains sidelined whilst Karim Benzema continues to blossom and score under Jose Mourinho. After hat-trick hero Ronaldo hobbled off during the team’s 7-0 thrashing over Malaga, a new talisman was needed but that solution was already on the field as a French striker netted two goals in that fixture.
Real Madrid’s number nine was heavily criticised by the Portuguese manager throughout pre-season and started the campaign on the bench which would disappoint any player of this calibre. However, the second round of La Liga has been the spark in his fairly dim Madrid career, he’s scored 8 goals in the last 9 games in which 6 were evenly scored in the past 3. The spark was not consistently appearing in the first team, dedicating or scoring goals; the catalyst behind it all was Mourinho, the motivator.
Jose Mourinho is recognized for several qualities where one of them is extracting the maximum potential out of his players. This was clear with the likes of Maniche and Derlei at FC Porto or with Lucio at Inter Milan who arrived at the club with a career which set to fade. The beauty behind Mourinho’s achievement is how he accomplishes this. I can’t exactly deliver a precise answer as I don’t work with the talented manager, but it certainly revolves around a culmination of intense training, one to one talks, development of collective mental strength, public criticism or praise and winning. But couldn’t any manager incorporate these? The answer is no as a rare few have the personality and confidence which Mourinho possesses.
Karim Benzema is currently the second highest goalscorer in the second round of La Liga with 8 goals, the only man ahead of him is the Fifa Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi who has 9 strikes. As the former Lyon star has scored 9 total league goals this season it means that he scored one goal in the first set of 19 fixtures, one goal. It’s clear to determine that the transition between his form took place from match 20 onwards, but let’s not forget all the hard work attained in training which is where Mourinho transforms these players into stars.
The striker now appears to be in unstoppable form, playing consistently, looking sharp, working hard, taking on defenders and most importantly, performing on (and off) the pitch. Last season he scored 9 total goals in 33 official matches, which is certainly a frustrating statistic for a player who cost the club €41m (£35m). Under Mourinho, Benzema has already clocked 38 games scoring 19 times (a goal every two games) placing him second in the club’s charts behind Ronaldo, of course. A world class player continuously breaks records throughout their career, Benzema’s all time high was set during the 2007-2008 season where he won the two major French trophies by playing 53 games and scoring 31 goals. Is 32 goals a realistic goal this year?
Real Madrid have 10 league matches ahead of them, a Copa del Rey final against rivals Barcelona on the 20th of April and a Champions League campaign which could end next week. If Karim Benzema continues scoring and playing with confidence, the 23 year old will finally explode at the Bernabeu and contribute to the club’s success. Should Higuain be worried? I would be.
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