Karim Benzema, Real Madrid's number 9 is undoubtedly the most criticised player in the Madrid squad. The player is welcomed by jeers rather than cheers by the Bernabeu crowd more often than not. Recently, former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker also tweeted that the striker is overrated after his UEFA Champions League fixture against Tottenham.
Although, the striker was backed up by his manager, Zinedine Zidane, and teammate, Marcelo, stating him as 'the best man to lead the team.'
It isn't for the first time that there are questions over Benzema's position in the Madrid squad. The Frenchman has always been a topic of debate among club supporters and football experts. However, there are some intriguing stats from last season that suggests that striker is on a different level when he isn't playing at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Karim Benzema in 2016-17 Home and Away Matches
Karim Benzema featured in 48 of Real Madrid's fixtures last season. He was able to find back of the net on 19 occasions and also assisted his teammates 7 times. Interestingly, he scored the majority of these goals away from home.
Benzema played 27 of his 48 matches in Real Madrid's visits. In these games, he was able to score 13 goals and provide 6 assists. These are some decent stats which means that he was able to get his name on the scoring sheet after playing a couple of matches.
On the other hand, in his 21 games at the Bernabeu, he was only able to score 6 goals and provide one assist. Two, out of these six goals came in a single game against Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund. That indicates, he just scored 4 goals in remaining of the 20 fixtures. Moreover, his shot accuracy also dropped to 42%, from an accuracy of 56% in away games.
New Season, Same Problem!
Karim Benzema had a terrible start to the current season of club football. The striker has only scored one goal in five fixtures that he has played at the Bernabeu. The forward probably had his worst game as Real Madrid player against Valencia, where he missed a string of excellent chances.
He was also held accountable for bungling a couple of good chances in Real Madrid's draw against Tottenham Hotspur at the Bernabeu.
Unsurprisingly, his only La Liga goal this season has come against Getafe, away from home.
The pressure of Bernabeu!
The above stats quite clearly insinuate striker's struggle at the Santiago Bernabeu. Not only he struggles in finishing, but his lack of assists in home games also implies that he doesn't have the same vision and passing ability as he has in away games.
The control on the ball that striker showed in UEFA Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon last season, and against Getafe in Madrid's La Liga clash at Coliseum Alfonso Pérez a season before, hasn't been witnessed at the Bernabeu either.
The influence of the home crowd can only be the possible reason behind this dip in Frenchman's performance. As mentioned above, the Bernabeu crowd takes a particular interest in the forward.
The striker is always expected to perform well, and even a single mistake from him can wake up a lot of Boo boys in the crowd. Maybe due to this, Benzema tends to struggle at his home turf.
Over the years, Real Madrid crowd has shown its frustration towards other members of the BBC, i.e. Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Even under those circumstances, the duo has been able to come up with their best to silence their haters in the crowd.
However, Benzema might not have the ability to handle such pressure like his fellow teammates. Former Lyon striker's away performances suggest that he likes to play with a free mind. Hearing jeers at his home stadium undoubtedly don't help him.
So maybe for a change, the Bernabeu crowd should start rooting for him and who knows, we might see a different side of the French striker.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.