Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 October 2019

Karim Benzema nets again to ease pressure on Zinedine Zidane: 5 talking points as Real Madrid beat Sevilla

Benzema's second half header put Real second in La Liga

Crisis? What crisis?

A look at the La Liga table and it would appear Real Madrid have made a steady start to the season - unbeaten in five matches, four points clear of rivals Barcelona and only kept off the top by Athletic Bilbao's superior goal difference.

Turn back the clock just a few days and it was as if the world was caving in for Real and their fans after they were humbled 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

However, as we all know, a week, or even just a few days, is a long time in football, and everything looks and feels rosier after last night's 1-0 victory at Sevilla.

Benzema a man for all seasons

Now in his 11th campaign with the club, Karim Benzema is showing little sign of slowing down. Real's fans may have wanted a big money signing to replace Cristiano Ronaldo last season, but they didn't get one.

Instead, Benzema stood up to the task of filling Ronaldo's goalscoring shoes by netting 30 times. He's on his way to reaching that total again this time around, having scored five in his first five league matches this season.

He timed his jump perfectly at the far post to meet a cross by Dani Carvajal and clinch Real's first win at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in five seasons.

Benzema may not have the allure and glamour of recent big-money signings such as Eden Hazard, but he is Zinedine Zidane's loyal lieutenant in the final third of the pitch.

"We know what Benzema is about and he got us the win again," said Zidane.

Zidane can breathe easy - for now

Just six months after returning to the club it was all looking like one big mistake. But Madrid put in the kind of gutsy performance that Zidane needed and he was full of praise of his team afterwards.

"We're happy because we played the full 90 minutes at a high level at a difficult place," he said.

"We played with personality for the 90 minutes. Everyone helped each other out on the field and what is obvious is the defensive solidarity."

He added: "We know we can do more in attack and we will do that. The team work we saw was fundamental in this win."

Jovic a frustrated spectator

While it was a pleasing night from a team perspective, two of Real's big-money signings were left watching from the bench.

Luka Jovic is still searching for his first goal for the club and has made just one start so far following his £54 million move from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer. With Benzema in top form, and Zidane's preference for one central striker, the Serbian will have to bide his time.

The same can be said for Brazilian defender Eder Militao, who has also started just once with Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos the first choice central defensive pairing. A Ramos suspension is always around the corner though.

Hazard fit and almost firing

Zidane handed a first league start to Eden Hazard as he works his way back to full fitness after injury.

The Belgian lined up in a three-pronged attack with Benzema and Gareth Bale and came close to scoring in the first half when he was denied by Sevilla goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik from close range.

He will have the chance to open his account on Wednesday when Real host Osasuna before they face city neighbours Atletico at the weekend.

Updated: September 23, 2019 08:17 AM

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