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How Vinícius and Benzema became Europe’s top strike partnership – Sports Africa

No other duo in LaLiga or even Europe’s major leagues has netted more goals than the Brazil and France internationals’ 21 combined.

When Vinícius was growing up in Rio de Janeiro, one of his favourite footballers to watch was Karim Benzema. The Brazilian admired the forward’s build-up play and ability to score great and decisive goals. Now, one of Benzema’s favourite footballers to play with is Vinícius and the pair have formed the best strike partnership not just in Spain but throughout Europe.

Looking across LaLiga Santander, the Premier League, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, there is no duo with a higher joint tally than the 21 league goals of Vinícius and Benzema, with the Brazilian having netted nine of them and the Frenchman 12. In England, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota have also combined for 21 league strikes so far, although they don’t have as many assists as the 10 goals that Real Madrid’s forwards have set up.

After 15 matchdays of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season, Benzema is leading the Pichichi standings as the top scorer of the Spanish top tier with his dozen goals, while his 21-year-old strike partner is second with his nine goals. The last time Real Madrid finished a LaLiga Santander season with the top two scorers of the championship was before either of the current stars was born, all the way back in 1985/86 when Hugo Sánchez and Jorge Valdano were first and second, but the Benzema-Vinícius duo could repeat that feat this year.

Their goals have propelled Real Madrid to a seven-point lead at the top of LaLiga Santander at this early stage of the season, while the players wearing No.9 and No.20 are also responsible for Los Blancos’ early qualification for the Champions League knockout rounds; Benzema and Vinícius have scored five and two goals on the continent respectively, meaning their overall contribution so far this campaign is 28 goals combined. With Real Madrid’s overall goals scored tally at 47, this means that 60% of the team’s goals have been put in the back of the net by one of these two players.

Vinícius and Benzema’s chemistry

These two players have a special chemistry on the pitch. When Vinícius first arrived at the Santiago Bernabéu in the 2018 off-season, Benzema took him under his wing at training and during matches and they could often be seen communicating on the pitch, with the veteran making sure the youngster was always in the right position.

This has paid off, with Vinícius assisting a Benzema goal in just their third full match together, a 4-2 victory over Girona in the Copa del Rey. Since then, the former Flamengo winger has set up 10 more Benzema goals, with half of these assists coming during the spectacular start to this campaign.

Even when they haven’t directly assisted each other, their quality in attack is making things happen. That was the case again in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory over Athletic Club, as a Vinícius run inside ultimately led to the situation from which Benzema tucked away his 12th league strike of the season.

Even in the difficult moments, the No.9 has helped his young partner. That was the case in a Madrid derby in the 2018/19 season, Vinícius’ first in Spain. When Atlético de Madrid scored a goal after Vinícius lost possession, Benzema immediately went up to the rookie and said they should swap positions for a few minutes, so that the teenager wouldn’t immediately be put back in a similar situation and so that he could regain his composure and confidence. “That worked,” Vinícius later remarked.

From day one, Benzema is the player who has helped Vinícius the most and the French forward has even stated that he wants to be like a big brother to his strike partner. That brotherly relationship truly is blossoming, both on and off the pitch.



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