Karim Benzema only needs mere inches to gather enough space to shoot the ball. When he does shoot the ball, the likelihood that it ends up in the back of the net is high. The striker has scored 11 goals in 14 games for club and country at the start of the new season. He only had 1 shot for France in the match against Belgium, but it was all he needed. Now a Balon d’Or candidate, the 33-year-old is enjoying some of the best form of his career, regardless of the fact that he is playing for Real Madrid or France.
The UEFA Nations League semi-final, brought together a mouth-watering contest between France and Belgium. There were plenty of big names on both team sheets — including Benzema, Hazard, Courtois, and Kylian Mbappe — and the match itself did not disappoint. Both teams came out of their shells, trading blows like heavyweight boxers.
Benzema was spectacular and his good performance did not just come down to his goal. He combined well with Mbappe, often feeding his strike partner with defense splitting through balls. His defensive work rate was second to none, hounding Witsel as well as the three center backs featuring for Belgium. Benz was critical in disrupting Belgium’s build up play out of the back, especially in the second half. As a striker, he won 7 of 9 ground duels and had 2 completed tackles.
On the goal, featured above, both Mbappe and Benzema combined to devastating affect. Mbappe beat two Belgium players off the dribble to enter the box and then squared the ball to Benzema. Despite the limited space, Benzema was able to find a shooting angle, contorting his body to get the shot off, and beat his Real Madrid teammate, Courtois, with the shot.
The Benzema-Mbappe connection was on fire. The Belgium back line struggled to deal with their movement and their ability off the dribble. Mbappe managed a goal and an assist with former Real Madrid fullback, Theo Hernandez, scoring the game winner in the 91st minute. Benzema and France will now play Spain in the UEFA Nations League final on Sunday.