There are days like this that everyone remembers. In France, July 10, 2018 will inevitably remain associated with Samuel Umtiti’s approach and Belgian bitterness. Elsewhere, the date marks the end of an era: it was on the same day that Real Madrid formalized the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus Turin, ending the extraordinary rivalry with Lionel Messi and depriving Spain of a duality that has made La Liga grow like no other before. Messi’s departure from PSG last year was the last nail in the coffin of a championship that was said to be amorphous and in full regression, both technically and in the media.
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However, in the space of six months, La Liga has returned to center stage. First thanks to his immortal Real Madrid, who came back from the dead several times to crown himself again at the top of Europe. Unexpected. But ultimately completely logical in view of the form of Karim Benzema who ended up burying everyone.
Robert Lewandowki versus Karim Benzema – the duel La Liga have been waiting for
Credit: Marko Popovic
He wants to prove he is better than Benzema
Since the departure of CR7, the Frenchman has accumulated 132 goals and 7 trophies. Impressive and yet almost innocuous at the sight of the man who comes to threaten his stranglehold on La Liga. And who has still not given up on the idea of winning the Ballon d’Or, a reward he was deprived of in 2020. With Bayern, over the same period of time, he weighs 193 goals and 9 trophies. To measure the pedigree of an attacker, difficult to do differently.
By landing at Barça this summer, the Pole revives this oh so symbolic remote duel between the Catalan club and Real Madrid. Each week, the statistics of the two men will be compared. And, in the case, the former Bayern Munich trigger seems confident about the outcome. His former agent, Cezary Kucharski, had dropped this little sentence at the beginning of the summer which says a lot about the ambition that drives Lewandowski. “He wants to prove he’s better than Benzema, that’s another reason to go to Barca“, he had explained.
The Pole had the good role by returning to these remarks a few days before the opening of the championship. “He is an extraordinary player, as he showed in the last Champions Leaguehe explained about his new rival. I don’t want to compare myself to him because it’s a new challenge for me, while he’s been him for many years and he proved last year how good he is. I look at myself and my team, not others“.
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It’s not knowing Lewandowski to take his word for it. His obsession with heights is also experienced through comparison via others. In 2016, after a surprising 16th place at the Ballon d’Or, his emoji-filled tweet to France Football revealed an almost unhealthy desire to be considered among the best. It is also thanks to this that at 33, he appears almost in the shape of his life.
“He is one of the most professional footballers I have worked with“, said of him Pep Guardiola. A sentence that could have applied to Benzema, older by a year. Where a Haaland-Mbappé duel had been imagined by some, it is ultimately two veterans who will hold the top of the poster in La Liga. But Javier Tebas will not be choosy. Such a rivalry is all that has been missing from his championship in recent years.
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