There have been some stand-out performances since the return of LaLiga but few players have had such a devastating impact as Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman has been instrumental in Real Madrid’s rise to the top of the table, especially since the return to action this month, with three goals, assists and key play to his name to help Madrid leapfrog Barcelona at the top of the ladder.
His crucial assist in Los Blancos’ slender 0-1 victory at Espanyol on Sunday night solidified Madrid’s place at the top following Barcelona’s draw at Celta Vigo, and cemented his position as one of this season’s best players in LaLiga.
Seemingly going nowhere and facing away from goal, the Frenchman sensed Casemiro’s run to the edge of the six-yard box, back-heeled a pass through the legs of the Espanyol defender and put the winning goal on a plate for the Brazilian.
It was a touch of class and a touch of class we’d seen before. Think Guti’s sublime back-heeled assist to Benzema against Deportivo, or think the Madrid no.9’s excellent trickery to set Isco up against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League only a few years ago.
Sunday night’s assist ranks alongside those pieces of magic, or even eclipses them. Not only on an individual scale but on a season-defining one. That moment of magic may well just help Madrid snatch LaLiga from Barcelona.
The assist could well be the icing on the cake of what’s been a great season for the Frenchman. With 17 goals to his name so far this season, he trails only Lionel Messi in the scoring charts and had he been giving penalty duties this season he would be top of the charts.
With seven assists to his name, Benzema has also proven himself to be a team player, with involvement in many other goals this season without playing the final pass.
One of Zidane’s favourites is enjoying arguably his best season in a Madrid shirt with six matches still to go. Benzema will, for sure, be a key cog in those final six ‘cup finals.