One, Cristiano Ronaldo, has gone down in history a little more, but the other, Karim Benzema, has experienced the ecstatic joy of true liberation. If the Portuguese breaks records and accumulates neurotic goals – his 13e and 14e achievements in a Euro – Wednesday, June 23, the French finally burst the abscess that had been gnawing at him for six years. It had been almost a seven-year term that the center forward had not marked with the Blues. Blame it on six years of sidelining and also a return marked for three weeks by four unsuccessful games.
In Budapest, the two former Real Madrid teammates were each able to celebrate their double and leave each other good friends, since no one lost after a draw (2-2) rather logical. Arm in arm, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema even exchanged their shirts at half-time. However, a few seconds before, the second had replied to the first: a penalty everywhere. This did not prevent the two champions from remaking the world on the way to the locker room, knowing smiles, like two former office colleagues happy to meet again.
The two thieves shared eight years under the prestigious Merengue jersey, from 2009 to 2018. Together, they won four Champions Leagues, two Liga and two King’s Cups. What to forge common memories and indestructible links. Especially since the relationship between the two players has always been special. The Frenchman has accepted all these years the ungrateful second role, in the service of the ego and the unquenchable thirst for goals of the Lusitanian.
The perfect alchemy ended three years ago with the departure of “CR7” for Juventus Turin. And she resuscitated the time of a warm Magyar evening. “It was a great pleasure to see him again. We have accomplished so much together at Real Madrid, scored so many goals together ”, said Benzema.
Once again denied – his last goal and last double dated October 8, 2015 against Armenia – the Blues striker could savor at the microphone of TF1: “You should never give up. These are not doubts, but I feel such an expectation from the whole country, which is normal for me after five years of waiting. ”
To the other broadcaster, BeIN Sports, Benzema simply mentioned “His joy and his pride” : “In club, I used to score, but I wanted to score in this team because I know that goals are very important in this competition. ” At 33, he is now 29 goals for the France team and becomes the ninth top scorer in history, ahead of another Rhone, Youri Djorkaeff.
For his part, Ronaldo was not satisfied with a single penalty. He did of course leave it to no one else to shoot the second he himself obtained by centering on the arm of the unfortunate Jules Koundé. The 36-year-old superstar continues to score at an age where some have long retired from the field.
Premiere night for Ronaldo
First night for him, he had never shaken the nets in six confrontations against the France team. His umpteenth double made him the provisional top scorer in the competition (five goals, including two against Hungary and one against Germany). And it allows him to attach another record to his collection: thanks to his 108e and 109e achievements with the Seleçao, he equals the world record for national goals set by Iranian Ali Daei. A handsome player, the latter immediately congratulated him on Instagram: “Congratulations to Cristiano who is now one goal away from breaking the international goalscoring record. I am honored that this remarkable achievement will soon belong to him… ”
Since making his international debut in 2003, Ronaldo has worn Portugal’s red and green jersey 178 times. This season, tireless, he still scored 29 goals with his club Juventus – inevitable top scorer in Serie A – and also remains the top scorer in the history of the Champions League (134 goals).
The two evening heroes therefore continue their journey in the round of 16 of this Euro 2021. Karim Benzema will face Switzerland on Monday June 28, while Cristiano Ronaldo will challenge Belgium the day before. “We just wished each other good luck for the rest of the tournament”, Benzema said. Maybe not yet aware that their summer bromance could experience a final twist. Time for a London semi-final on July 6.
Euro 2021: posters for the round of 16
After two weeks of competition, the group stages of Euro 2021 have delivered their verdict. Here are the round of 16 matches that will take place from Saturday June 26 to Tuesday June 29:
Saturday June 26
Wales – Denmark at 6 p.m., at the Johan-Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam
Italy-Austria at 9 p.m., at Wembley Stadium in London
Sunday June 27
Netherlands – Czech Republic at 6 p.m., at the Puskas Arena in Budapest
Belgium-Portugal at 9 p.m., at the Cartuja in Seville
Monday June 28
Croatia-Spain at 6 p.m. at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen
France-Switzerland at 9 p.m., at the National Arena in Bucharest
Tuesday June 29
England-Germany at 6 p.m. at Wembley Stadium in London
Sweden-Ukraine at 9 p.m. at Hampden Park in Glasgow
All the matches will be followed live on Lemonde.fr