Benzema and the goal that never went in

Who hasn’t missed a clear goalscoring opportunity? The type of opportunity where a bead of sweat drops into your eye and all of a sudden you can see two goals instead of just the one, right at the very moment you are going to connect with the ball.

It is the type of opportunity where you just have to place the ball into the net, a gift which quickly turns into a trap and it is remembered for years to come.

These misses live long in the memory not just of the player in question but also every single individual supporter who witnessed it, the maths teacher who ponders it for a moment whilst stood at the blackboard, the children watching the match, the army cadets or indeed those with a better memory who will live with the miss for decades.

Benzema failed those supporters all in the same match as he failed to lead Real Madrid in attack at a time when they needed it. There are great footballers who don’t score goals and there are great goalscorers who add little else and only take note of the Pichichi table. Benzema’s performance on Sunday didn’t fit into either category of player but was rather a tribute to one of the club’s legendary strikers, himself.

Karim Benzema’s missed header against Valencia late on in the match summed his evening up. He was mere metres away from goal and was thwarted by Neto, who tipped the ball onto the post.

This followed a previous miss where the Frenchman was three yards from goal and just had to place the ball into the bottom corner, but instead he fired it wide.

After a frustrating performance he then missed another chance in the 88th minute, which Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn’t have thought twice about taking.

In missing that opportunity it was made abundantly clear that it is Ronaldo who leads Los Blancos’ attacking line and the fans understand that. They know what Benzema is and in the end his performance paid tribute to his own career in the Spanish capital.

It wasn’t a bad performance, he got into the right areas but simply lacked the killer instinct needed to finish chances off. The Frenchman is a great eight and a half, or perhaps even a good nine and three quarters but he is not quite either a fully fledged No. 9 or No. 10.

It is only when he is entrusted with leading the Los Blancos forward line that this becomes clear and in the absence of Ronaldo this showed on Sunday.

Benzema will always be remembered as the author of the goals that aren’t scored rather than the one who scores them.

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