When it comes to pre-match press conferences, it’s rare for tactics to be discussed in depth - if at all. There are a few coaches and players who will openly discuss their formations and their reasoning, but it is becoming increasingly rare in modern football as clubs become ever more secretive.
On Monday, however, those watching Karim Benzema’s pre-match press conference ahead of the Atalanta game enjoyed one answer where the No.9 did talk about actual football. He was asked about his position on the pitch, how that has changed since Cristiano Ronaldo departed and how thinks it might change again as he gets older.
Benzema didn’t dodge the question. He actually responded at length, speaking for over a full minute. That’s unusual for a modern player at a modern press conference, so I thought I’d share his answer in its entirety here.
This is what Benzema said:
“My position on the pitch depends. Right now I have the body and the fitness to play quite freely. When I say I can be free, I mean that sometimes I can stay up top and wait for crosses. Other times, I can help my teammates out in the midfield to help create chances and then I try to finish them when I can. It all depends. It depends on the movement and it depends on everything. When I step onto the pitch, I study the opponent and how they have set up. Then, if I notice that there is a defender who stays [in the back line] then I’m going to look for the ball a little deeper. If the defender comes out [from the back line] then what I can do is I move to create space for other teammates. But, this is something that depends on a player’s fitness. Right now, I can play this way depending on where the ball goes. In one, two or three years, [playing this style] will depend on how my body is. But, thankfully, I have good technical skill and good vision to be able to play where I want.”
I thought that was quite interesting. A lot of it is obvious just from watching him, but it’s rare for a player to come out and explain what he is doing like that. So, next time we see Benzema collecting the ball near the sideline or near the halfway line and we’re wondering why he’s so deep, maybe we need to remember that he isn’t just out of position for the sake of it. It’s because he noticed something in the opposition defence that he thinks he can exploit.