Real Madrid face Paris Saint-Germain in the opening leg of the Champions League’s Round of 16 this Wednesday and coach Zinedine Zidane said that he had already made a decision about who will start that game even before the match against Real Sociedad.
That means that striker Karim Benzema will almost certainly be in the starting lineup come Wednesday, even though he clearly has the home fans against him and many supporters would like to see him sitting on the bench in order to give players like Isco or Asensio a chance to start alongside Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, it’s clear that Benzema is at his best with the other two members of the BBC. With Ronaldo and Bale in the lineup, Benzema isn’t expected to be the team’s finisher, something which allows him to play with freedom and help the midfielders as he always does.
If Zidane is going to start both Bale and Ronaldo upfront, he also should give Benzema another chance to play and turn things around after what has been a mediocre first half of the season.
However, it’s also true that a bad performance and a potential substitution during the second half could put Benzema’s career with Real Madrid to an end. If Madrid end up struggling against PSG, the fans will blame Benzema once again and that’s something Zidane has to keep in mind if he wants to keep using the French attacker next season, because it will not be easy for him to earn the trust of the home fans once again.
Either way, Zidane has to think only about this tie. Los Blancos need to play good football but most importantly they need a good result so that the away game at Paris becomes a bit more manageable for them. Real Madrid have to do their very best to at least be ahead on aggregate after the opening leg because it will not be easy for them to win at the Parc des Prices if PSG are allowed to counterattack.
Benzema will give Zidane’s men the best chance to score a few goals through Bale and Ronaldo and that’s why he has to be in the team’s starting lineup next Wednesday.