Football Tour of Europe: Benzema propels Real, Barça hooked

Thanks to a Karim Benzema who has entered a little more into legend, Real Madrid corrected Valencia 4-1 on Saturday for the 20th day of La Liga, and consolidates his place as leader of Liga, eight points ahead of his runner-up, Sevilla FC, who receives Getafe on Sunday (4:15 p.m.).

While the Madrilenians dominated without scoring during the entire first period, the French international center forward was responsible for transforming the penalty awarded by the referee after a foul by Omar Alderete on Casemiro in the box to open the scoring just before the break (43rd), scoring his 300th goal in the “White House” jersey (in 584 matches).

Benzema then capped his dream night with a second pivotal goal late in the game (87th).

Di Stefano is not far away

Fourth top scorer in club history, “KB9” is only seven goals away from legend Alfredo di Stéfano (308 goals). Two sacred monsters dominate this ranking: Raul (323 goals) and the unattainable Cristiano Ronaldo (451 goals).

Vinicius helped the Frenchman seal the merengue success, with a brace too: the young Brazilian first made a one-two with Benzema in the box (52nd), then he was well placed after a strike by Marco Asensio pushed back by Jasper Cillessen, to slip the ball with his head into the empty cage (61st).

The only downside for Real: the penalty converted by Gonçalo Guedes (76th) in two stages, his first attempt having been rejected by Thibaut Courtois.

Barça still hanging on to Granada

Dani Alves, back in La Liga six years after his departure, served in the 57th a perfect cross for the header of Luuk de Jong, who has finally started his season since early 2022, with a second goal in two matches … But Barça , reduced to ten after the expulsion of Gavi ten minutes from time (80th), faltered at the end of the match and Granada ended up equalizing in the 89th minute by Antonio Puertas, after a corner kick.

A new stop for Xavi, three days after the big fear in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey against the modest Linares (Spanish D3), a match won on the wire (2-1).

And the Catalan technician has other concerns to be made: the young central defender Eric Garcia was injured in his turn. Obviously the victim of a tear in the back of the right thigh, he came out grimacing, giving way to Clément Lenglet in the 53rd minute.

Eric Garcia joins the long list of players unavailable on the Catalan side, made up of the injured Ronald Araujo, Frenkie De Jong, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati, and the players still positive for Covid-19, Pedri and Ferran Torres.

Xavi may eventually find points of satisfaction. Despite some defensive mistakes and some bad choices, Dani Alves brought all his heart to this FC Barcelona in search of a second wind, and signed his first decisive pass since his return to the club, after a successful first match in the Copa del Rey Wednesday.

And Luuk de Jong also revived: long forgotten on the bench in the first part of the season and sometimes mocked for his ineffectiveness in the face of goal, the Dutch center-forward, recruited last summer in Seville, silenced his detractors with this second goal in two matches, headed again. He even scored in the 8th minute, with a header already, but his goal was refused by VAR for a contentious offside.

Dortmund overthrows Frankfurt

Dortmund snatched a precious victory in extremis (3-2) on Saturday in Frankfurt, to return to six points from beaten Bayern on Friday, during an 18th day of the Bundesliga marked by the return of closed doors in all stadiums.

A measure not appreciated by the president of the BVB Hans-Joachim Watzke, who considers that the politicians use football as “a symbol” without valid health reason. “It’s not about having full stadiums, that would be a completely wrong signal,” he said in an interview with Spiegel published on Saturday, “but I consider a 10% gauge would be appropriate”.

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