Karim Benzema always appears in San Mamés, at least in recent times. The 2022 Ballon d’Or has faced Athletic 26 times in the league championship and has scored 17 goals, a respectable figure, six of them in Bilbao. His voracity has also been awakened in the last two seasons, in which he has been decisive for the whites to take all three points.
Unai Simón, Daniel Vivian, Yuri, De Marcos (Lekue, min. 75), Aitor Paredes, Oier Zarraga (Ander Herrera, min. 66), O. Sancet (Muniain, min. 66), Nico Williams, Berenguer (Guruzeta, min. 66), Vesga (Raúl García, min. 85) and Williams
Courtois, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao, Nacho, Rüdiger, Federico Valverde, Camavinga, Dani Ceballos (Kroos, min. 85), Vinicius Junior (Rodrygo, min. 83), Benzema and Marco Asensio (Modric, min. 73)
goals 0-1 min. 24: Benzema. 0-2 min. 90: Kroos.
Referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez
Yellow cards Yuri (min. 50), Daniel Vivian (min. 57), Camavinga (min. 61), Vinicius Junior (min. 78) and Ander Herrera (min. 87)
Last year, with a double before the 10th minute, on this occasion reaching, with 228 goals, Raúl as the second highest scorer in the history of Real Madrid, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo, and entering, at the same time, in the top 5 goalscorers in the League. With nine goals in nine games, the Madrid footballer was once again an undetectable footballer against Athletic for the defenders.
From the stands he was not seen too much either, perhaps because he moved from side to side throughout the entire balcony of the area, looking for spaces and his moment. He appeared for the first time in a shot that went high, then in another shot with intention that the rojiblanco center-back Paredes, who was making his debut as center-back due to absences in the defensive axis, launched himself to cover with his body. Benzema’s third time was to climb the scorer’s rankings, volleying a ball that fell from the sky. Nobody detected that Karim was there, to open the scoring and make things very difficult for Athletic.
Directions to Vinicius
Benzema’s first decision was made, however, before the ball rolled, in the initial draw in which he chose the field where Athletic usually plays, a psychological issue in which he was also very alive.
While Athletic swelled to take corners and dominated the situation, Benzema waited, often giving instructions to Vinicius, that one more game was diluted on the left wing well covered by De Marcos, who then gave up his position to Lekue. Without Modric or Kroos on the field, the Madrid captain served as a relief for Camavinga and, above all, for Ceballos when his team was deployed.
He was always willing to receive anywhere on the field, and to look for the best combination, like the one in minute 65, when he put a ball on goal for Asensio, who shot too cross before Unai Simón left.
It was even Benzema’s turn to tune bagpipes when after a foul on Vinicius, the referee, Sánchez Martínez, went to the band to confront Ancelotti over some comment from the Madrid coach. There was Karim on the move with the bracelet to mediate. The Brazilian was reproached for each action. With Benzema, San Mamés kept a reverential respect every time he touched the ball, although in the second half he hardly had a chance, he remained an island in midfield for a long time, with Athletic pressing up. He was the attacking reference, but he defended the rival’s set pieces at the near post.
Possibly, the one in San Mamés was not Benzema’s best game, but a spark of class was enough to send Athletic to limbo. Like last season. Kroos’ goal, in the 90th minute, only certified victory on his 130th visit to San Mamés since 1917.
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