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La Liga: Benzema bids farewell to Real and Bernabeu with one last goal, the 354th, against Bilbao


Highlights: Real Madrid's Karim Benzema will leave the club at the end of the season. The French striker is one of the club's all-time top scorers with 354 goals. Fans came out in force to say goodbye to Benzema, who will join Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia. Real Madrid finished second in the La Liga standings, behind Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski (71 goals) Real Madrid will play in the Europa League next season, against Sevilla (6th) and Osasuna.

The French striker was warmly praised by the public of Santiago-Bernabeu this Sunday, on the last day of the Spanish championship.

It was supposed to be simply Real Madrid's last game of the season, it became the final chapter of legend Karim Benzema in Madrid, to whom fans came to say goodbye and express their gratitude on Sunday. "I am very grateful for everything he has brought to the club," said Riquelme Berna, 20, before the last match of the star striker of Real against Athletic Bilbao (1-1), this Sunday, on the 38th and last day of the Spanish championship.

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He oscillates like many between sadness and understanding about the decision of the Ballon d'Or 2022, whose departure was formalized earlier in the day by Real. "It pains me that he leaves, but he no longer has the same performance (...) At this age, it's normal," he added before entering the stadium.


Inside, the France international, one of the club's all-time top scorers, received a standing ovation at the entrance and exit of the pitch in the 73rd minute, just after converting a penalty that much of the stadium demanded he take (see video below). A goal that allows Casa Blanca to finish second in the La Liga standings, behind the Barcelona champion. In the "zona sur", one of the most active, the chants and flags in honor of "Karim" did not stop.

Before the match, the surroundings of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium saw a continuous stream of white jerseys, especially those of the number 9, that of Benzema, now nicknamed the "Nueve", which also floods the shops of supporters. "There are more people buying products fromBenzema... the fans love him a lot, because he's been there in a lot of good times, so people want a souvenir," said Alvaro Gonzalez, a 16-year-old salesman between two customers.

I didn't expect it

Carlos Sanchez, supporter du Real Madrid

When the players' bus arrived, many children asked "where isBenzema?" Some had even come at the last minute and on purpose to see the French striker who, in 14 years in the jersey of Real, has collected 25 trophies. "Frankly, I didn't expect it," says Carlos Sanchez, in front of the ticket office to try to get a seat. "His time has arrived" and "his exit is totally respectable," he said.

Arriving in 2009 from Lyon, Karim Benzema has won the hearts of Real fans. JUAN MEDINA / REUTERS

Others are more bitter. "It's a big loss for the club, it's one of the greats who is leaving," said Wiliam Silva, 51. At the exit of the metro, Emanuel Rodriguez, 16, says he is "sad", because "the victory in the Champions League last year, it is partly to him that we owe it", although he considers his decision "expected" given the frequent injuries of the player this season. Beyond the statistics, he retains from Benzema "the professionalism, the constant calm, the tranquility that he transmitted to the team". A possible departure of the Frenchman to Saudi Arabia where he could join the club of Al-Ittihad for a contract already qualified as a record, does not surprise him, because Cristiano "Ronaldo did the same" in January.

Who to replace him?

It remains to be seen who will replace it, and if it is really replaceable. For Jesus, "they have to sign a number 9, but it's going to be hard to find." At the end of the match, Karim Benzema received a final standing ovation alongside his son Ibrahim. Merengues fans were able to say goodbye, before an official ceremony planned by the club on Tuesday.

Karim Benzema played Sunday his 648th with the Madrid shirt, for 354 goals. Within the "White House" he will leave an indelible mark, with 25 titles including five Champions Leagues won. This season he finished second in the scoring table with 19 goals behind Barça's Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.

Atlético joined in extremis

Reduced to ten after the exclusion of Belgian Axel Witsel (71st), Atlético was joined at 2-2 in extra time on the field of Villarreal (5th). Diego Simeone's team, within seconds, finished in third place. But the positions are anecdotal regarding the first four places since Barcelona, Real, Atleti and Real Sociedad (4th), who won at home against Sevilla FC (2-1), will play the C1 next season. Villarreal and Betis Sevilla (6th) will play the Europa League and Osasuna (7th) the Conference Europa League. Athletic Bilbao, despite their very good game in Madrid, finished in eighth place, the first non-qualification for a European Cup. At the bottom of the standings everything will be played during the matches played in the evening (21:00). For the time being, only Espanyol Barcelona (19th) and Elche (20th) are condemned to relegation. Six other teams involved in the fight for retention will play with fear in their stomachs: Cadiz, Getafe, Valencia, Almeria, Celta Vigo and Valladolid.

Source: lefigaro

All sports articles on 2023-06-04

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