Real Madrid: Five Man of the Match candidates against Chelsea

Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid, Karim Benzema
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

CF Karim Benzema

We have to include Karim Benzema on just about any list regarding potential Man of the Match candidates from Los Blancos, because Benzema is their Man of the Season. Without Benzema, there is no Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals. If you take the star striker out of the equation, Real are a footnote in La Liga’s title race. Worse yet, they are probably a joke and an unmitigated disaster.

Benzema carries this team’s attack. That is the reality in 2021. It is Benzema and then a whole host of question marks. And lately, those question marks have not been answering the call, as Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio have fallen off a cliff since their goals against Liverpool in the first leg. Both were invisible against Chelsea at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

But Benzema was fantastic. Despite receiving no help, Benz evened the draw in the first half with a brilliant goal. He even nearly scored earlier from absolutely nothing, smacking the post from range with a left-footed strike.

There isn’t a more logical Man of the Match prediction than Benzema. One of the greatest Champions League players ever, Benzema is no longer in Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow. Wednesday night is his moment. And like Toni Kroos, he has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that he merits recognition as something beyond even world-class. He knows that if Real pull off the improbable and win this year’s Champions League, he becomes a Ballon d’Or favorite.