Real Madrid returned from the Camp Nou still six points ahead of Barcelona, and though there were many standout performances from the Los Blancos XI, Karim Benzema will be unhappy with his contribution.
The French striker was far from the player Zinedine Zidane knows that he can be, but the poor standard of his performance has been on repeat since the start of this campaign.
An injury suffered in preseason has taken its toll and not allowed him to get close to even the minimum level that’s demanded of a Real centre-forward.
Frankly, it’s not good enough and Sergio Ramos will not always appear to save the day.
During the recent game against Sporting at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, boos could be heard each time he touched the ball, which wasn’t often; just seven passes in the first half.
Against Barcelona he wasn’t much better.
No physicality, he lost ten balls, and when he had a very clear chance, Jordi Alba had time to react and take the ball.
Zidane, as he’s shown on a match-by-match basis, still relies on Benzema, but the player’s response isn’t what the supporters want to see.
On Saturday afternoon, he was subbed after 77 minutes and Real were more of a threat up front once Marco Asensio went wide and Cristiano Ronaldo played centrally.
Even Mariano Diaz looked more menacing in the five minutes he played.
Ramos’ intervention in the 90th minute took the focus away from the Frenchman’s inability to affect the play; that and the fact that Lionel Messi was so poor that most column inches will be dedicated to the Argentinian’s own loss of form.
Thirty-three games unbeaten means that, in general terms, everyone at the club is happy, but Zidane might think about wielding the axe in the new year if his countryman doesn’t step it up.