Real Madrid’s failed summer pursuit of Kylian Mbappe has been all but completely forgotten because the club has struck gold with the most unlikely of strike partnerships.
Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior were Real Madrid’s odd couple last season when the Frenchman was filmed saying it was better not to give his teammate the ball because he appeared to be “playing for the other side”.
But so far this season they have scored 13 goals and given 10 assists between them. The Frenchman has eight goals and seven assists and the Brazilian has scored five and given three passes leading to a goal. The completely absent chemistry is now there for all to see.
It was October 2020, when Benzema’s disdain went viral. With the players waiting to come out for the second half in a Champions League Game, television cameras picked up Benzema telling compatriot Ferland Mendy: “Don’t give it to him; it’s like he’s playing for them.”
Before this season Vinicius was error-prone with his shots on goal and his final pass as he was quick and skilful in the early phases of an attack. It was a running joke that his goals usually came from deflections and that Madrid’s 45 million investment in him when he was 18 – hoping he’d end up as a Ballon d’Or candidate – was doomed to failure.
Benzema is finally no longer alone. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, he has carried Real Madrid offensively at arm’s length, has finally found in Vinicius a partner capable of supporting him and of being decisive. Author’s of most of Madrid’s goals since the start of the season, the two friends, have between them, scored more goals than any other La-Liga team. Above all, they have finally succeeded in developing a good bond on the pitch.
“Vini is a very young player. I believe in him because he has everything needed to triumph here, ” the Frenchman has revealed. “For that reason, I talk with him a lot both on and off the field. At times I can be a little tough with him, but it’s for his benefit. I know that he can give more and because he can be phenomenon when he wants.”
Benzema’s comment showed his admiration and respect for the young Brazilian. He believes in Vini’s potential, which means he’ll always push the player to be the best.
Benzema’s finishing needs no introduction and now with Vini’s consistency and accurate passes, the team is only benefiting. Both are difficult to mark inside the box and the combination of sheer pace and pin-point finishing is working out for the Los Blancos.
Mbappe is still on his way to Madrid. But as things stand he will become the third man in a front three that also includes his international team-mate Benzema and Vinicius, instead of being the saviour of a team that can’t score goals and the solo foundation in which a new Real Madrid is built.