Real Madrid: 5 burning questions from a deflating loss to Alaves

Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Eden Hazard (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Karim Benzema
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

How much will Karim Benzema’s return fix?

I admire Mariano Diaz. His effort is undeniable, and he did a great job scoring that early goal at Villarreal last weekend. And he did an even better job with his goal off the bench earlier this year in El Clasico.

The problem is that Mariano isn’t good enough for Real Madrid. His confidence is high, as is his work rate. But his technical quality is low. His movement off the ball is all over the place He works hard, but he doesn’t work smart. There is no rhyme or reason to what Mariano does, which is why he is so unreliable over a full 90 minutes.

Karim Benzema, on the other hand, is a legend. He is the heart of Real Madrid’s attack, and for as much as we criticize him when he goes cold in front of goal, he is about to be the clear leader in goal contributions for the third year running. You can argue that only Sergio Ramos is as important as Benzema to the team’s success.

When Benzema returns from the injury he suffered before the November international break at Valencia, Real Madrid will be in a considerably better place. But how much better will they be if, say, Benzema returns but Eden Hazard is out through the Atleti match?

Benzema came up with the goods in a tough 1-0 game at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last year in September. Can he do the same next weekend? And what of the mid-week match at Shakhtar Donetsk? Can Benzema do all the heavy lifting alone? Because it doesn’t seem like any other forwards are ready to step up.