27 May 2022 | 08:40
A scandalous and awkward incident in Real Madrid’s 2020/21 Champions League campaign.
Going two goals down in the first half of an important match at Borussia Mönchengladbach in October 2020, Karim Benzema was caught on camera urging teammates not to pass to Vinícius JúniorAn embarrassing and humiliating time for both players.
Nineteen months and a public apology later, they entered this season’s final as the most dynamic duo in world football.
For those inclined to watch only the Premier League, think Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – but with more production possibilities.
And for those who believe that a frankly absurd ‘tax’ should be imposed on output that occurs outside of that league, the pair have created magical moments to support the unprecedented strides ahead. PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Of course, Benzema should be immune to that disrespect, playing a supporting role to Cristiano Ronaldo’s perfection for years before taking his own chance to shine as Real’s focal point.
Shine he has. At 34, this is Benzema’s best season yet. Indeed, the French striker is the Ballon d’Or winner in the meantime.
It may have been the importance of a select few of Benzema’s goals that helped him win the award, but he scored 42 goals from opportunities which equates to 33.82 goals expected (xG) In La Liga and the Champions League this season, an incredible comeback has led Real to win a domestic title and a European final.
Goals aren’t the only perks he offers, though. Benzema’s move and alignment play is possibly the best in the business in his position.
A total of 14 assists in the two leagues – from 12.33 expected support (xA) – shows how willing he is to provide enough service for his teammates to prosper.
Both Benzema and Vinícius benefit greatly from the relationship the duo has developed following a sour scene in the Mönchengladbach tunnel, with the pair’s striking stats being intrinsically linked by into the telepathic nature of their play this season.
That was impossible just 19 months ago.
Vinícius’ improvement is perhaps more surprising than Benzema’s Ballon d’Or value.
Previously nicknamed ‘fictional’ by Real fans, his act of disappearing on the pitch is a thing of the past, he contributed a lot of goals (20) and assists (16) in La Liga. Liga and Champions League.
The Brazilian winger’s deeper understanding of how to work with Benzema can be seen when comparing his shooting pattern from this season to last.
Not only does Vinícius get better, repeatable positions for a player with such devastating dribbling skills, but his finishing ability is also much stronger, his 20 goals. in two tournaments come from equal chance of 18.52 xG.
Presented with a touch chart for this season, it’s easy to see how much more Benzema has trusted him.
Benzema mainly operates in half space on Vinícius’ side, the two are very comfortable in swapping positions to cause problems for the opponent. The location of some of Vinícius’ targets alone is proof of that.
Granted, Vinícius spends most of his time cuddling on the sidelines, but that’s understandable since it’s a successful starting point for his creativity.
The 21-year-old is the creator of the most passes (37 in La Liga) of any player in Europe’s five major leagues as of 2021/22, scoring 39 shots from such situations.
Add in the fact that Vinícius has created a total of 29 chances in the Champions League this season, nine of which ended in Benzema’s scoring effort, and no one should bet on the duo wreaking havoc in the final. .
After all, the area in which they operate is Liverpool’s weak point.
Don’t forget, in the same UCL campaign as the incident between Benzema and Vinícius, Real Madrid took down a struggling Liverpool, scoring two of them by exposing the net of Trent Alexander-Arnold, despite the Spanish club Nha is not close to the current form.
Admittedly, Liverpool was regrettably lacking in defense options in the game held at Real’s training complex, but a healthy Virgil van Dijk is usually stationed on the other side of the defence, and the prospect of a pair in better form is more flying at this point. .
Joël Matip or Ibrahima Konaté will be in charge of helping Alexander-Arnold, who will no doubt need support because of his serious defensive error. Of course, Liverpool will benefit in the opposite match.
However, basically, they have the most difficult task in football at the moment. Keeping Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior quiet is a responsibility that few can do this season.
After a rough start to their relationship, the partnership is now turning positive – one of the most dynamic duos in the world.