by Tim Stannard
Benzema feels "free on the pitch" having seen goal tally nearly treble after Cristiano Ronaldo's departure
When Neymar bought his way out of Barcelona in 2017, the main motivation - aside from money, city-wide birthday celebrations and having the Eiffel Tower lit up in his honor - was to free himself from the shackles of being Lionel Messi's tactical sidekick. Ironically, the Brazilian then took on that role for Kylian Mbappe.
Karim Benzema has been opening up about the freedom that he has felt ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus two season's ago. In the Frenchman's mind, Benzema has now returned to his roots as a striker, rather than a support act for CR7 - a role K-Benz says he didn't mind filling.
"He was a guy who scored double or triple the amount of goals and you have to adapt. I didn't think anything of having to change my game, giving more assists," admitted Benzema to 'Universo Valdano'.
The final two seasons that Benzema and Ronaldo played together produced just league 16 goals for the French forward. The two most recent campaigns saw Benzema knocking up 42 LaLiga goals, nearly three times the amount.
"Now I feel free on the pitch, I like to be on the ball, getting involved in plays. With Cristiano, I had to change my style and play for him," revealed the Benz-Meister.
Speaking of Cristiano Ronaldo, it seems that an apparent two-year rift between the Portuguese poser and Sergio Ramos is over. Peace in our time. Both players had a friendly photograph taken together after Wednesday's goalless draw between Spain and Portugal.
In a truly bold move for the ages, the image was taken without filters, proper lighting, make-up and in full-blown color and not moody black and white. Neither Ramos nor Ronaldo were involved in any kind of fitness activity in the photograph but both were, of course, shirtless.
Camavinga marks another milestone with France goal
The reason that Benzema was able to pour forth his soul to Jorge Valdano was that the Frenchman was still being exiled by the national team.
Therefore he was unable to join in the 7-1 hammering of Ukraine on Wednesday that saw the 17-year-old Rennes midfielder, Eduardo Camavinga, opening the scoring for the national team to become the youngest goalscorer for France since 1914.
Remember the name Eduardo Camavinga!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 7, 2020
The 17-year-old scores an outrageous goal to become France’s youngest goalscorer in over 100 years 🤩 pic.twitter.com/Tmd7Q05kQt
Although Antoine Griezmann started the game on the bench, when the Barcelona forward came onto the pitch, he swiftly scored, giving further credence to the notion from Didiier Deschamps that if Barcelona's various coaches played Griezmann in the right position, goals would flow.
Speaking of talented French footballers, beIN SPORTS is showing the France U-21 side in action against Liechtenstein in a European Championships qualifier today.
It's a team stuffed with talent such as Wesley Fofana who recently made a big money move to Leicester City, Sevilla star Jules Kounde, Matteo Guendouzi, and Lille's Jonathan Ikone. Coverage gets underway at 2:50PM ET.
South America World Cup qualifiers get underway
Lionel Messi will be playing alongside Lautaro Martinez on Thursday with Argentina national team, something that was supposed to be happening for Barcelona this season. Instead, Messi can enjoy Martin Braithwaite as the club's number nine. Happy days are here again.
South America is beginning its qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with three games on Thursday - Argentina take on Ecuador, Uruguay host Chile, while Paraguay go up against Peru. All these matches will be shown in full on beIN SPORTS on Saturday.