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Player Analysis: Karim Benzema vs Real Betis

Karim Benzema provided a glimmer of hope for Real Madrid against Real Betis

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Although Karim Benzema's second-half goal shouldn't have counted, it was exactly what the Frenchman's performance deserved Sunday evening inside the Estadio Benito Villamarín.

It was a frustrating night for Benzema to say the least. In the absence of Gareth Bale, the lineup was obviously altered a bit with James Rodríguez playing out on the right. Bale seemed to be severely miss as the Colombian and his teammates struggled to provide their striker with consistent, quality service throughout the 90 minutes.

Due to this, Benzema strayed out of the central position to receive the ball. However, this didn't necessarily render the striker ineffective as he had numerous chances. While in the attacking third, he hung around the left side on Real Betis defender Germán Pezzella allowing James to operate primarily on the right.

Early on, Real Madrid struggled as a whole after Álvaro Cujedo's goal shocked them. Real Betis's game plan was simple. They made the most of an early counter-attack and pressed Real Madrid's forwards forcing them into poor touches which proved to be successful as Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema struggled to link up. However, as the match went on Benzema grew into the game, doubling his shot tally moving from the first half into the second. In the 25th minute Benzema received his first chance when Toni Kroos pounced on a misplaced pass and fed the ball to the Frenchman in the middle of the field.

Benzema's decision making was questioned as he opted to strike the ball from distance instead of passing out to a few teammates who had made runs. His shot rifled off the leg of Pezzella and out of the danger zone.

Despite the poor decision, the attacker continued to pick out the pockets of space within the back line and challenged Real Betis when he possessed the ball. In the 35th minute, Benzema found himself just yards from goal when Petros stepped on his right foot. Although the foul looked obvious to the audience, the referee failed to point to the spot.

At the time, it looked as if it was just going to be one of those days for Los Blancos. A cracker of a goal at the other end, a few missed sitters and poor decisions contributed to Real Madrid's one goal deficit at halftime.

While Benzema enjoyed two goal scoring opportunities early in the second half, the break through arrived in the 71st minute. Toni Kroos split Real Betis's back line, finding James one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Instead of trying to maneuver the ball around Antonio Adán, he laid it off to Benzema who sat four yards to his left. The pass was on point and Benzema slotted it into an open net.

While Los Merengues peppered Adán for the remaining 15 minutes, the match ultimately ended in a draw with Benzema being the only goalscorer. His play was lively and he continues to produce weekly as he has now tallied 21 goals in 20 appearances. While Real Madrid have been awfully inconsistent this season, Benzema continues to provide scoring proving that he's easily one of the top-3 most productive strikers in the world.

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