What is Real Madrid’s long term plan for Karim Benzema?

With 14 goals in La Liga this season, Karim Benzema had been enjoying a successful campaign before the global coronavirus crisis brought everything to a halt. Now, there is no suggestion of when the La Liga season will resume and every other division in Europe is in the same situation. These are unprecedented times for the sport.

And so with no matches to preview or react to it’s time to consider some big picture questions. Real Madrid find themselves in the midst of a transition. Zinedine Zidane’s side might be fighting near the top of La Liga for only their third title in 11 years, but this is a squad that is still stuck between the Old Guard and the new generation.

One question Real Madrid must find an answer to over the next few seasons concerns the future of Benzema. At 32 years old, the Frenchman is coming into the twilight of his career, but he is seemingly only getting better with age. So should Los Blancos look to replace Benzema sooner rather than later or stick with him for the long term?

A number of big name strikers have been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu in recent years. Most persistently, Robert Lewandowski has been speculated to be on Real Madrid’s radar with the Polish centre forward widely believed to be keen on making the switch to the Spanish capital at one point.

For all his undeniable brilliance, though, Lewandowski is only one year younger than Benzema at 31. He wouldn’t be a long term successor to the Frenchman. Real Madrid would surely face the same dilemma with Lewandowski as they do now with Benzema. Instead, they need someone who will carry their attack for years to come.

Erling Haaland fits the bill. The Norwegian has hit the ground running at Borussia Dortmund and at just 19 years old is set to spend the next decade at the elite level of the sport. Harry Kane has also been previously mentioned as a future ‘Galactico’ and with the England international reportedly considering his future at Tottenham Hotspur the pieces might be falling into place for him to join Real Madrid.

Of course, Los Blancos spent big on the signing of Luka Jovic last summer. He was meant to be the long term successor to Benzema, but has so far struggled to grow accustomed to his new surroundings. Finding a successor to Benzema won’t be easy, but Real Madrid must start devising a plan of action.

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Haaland ready to fire club and country to glory in 2020

By the end of the summer, Erling Braut Haaland’s stratospheric rise to the upper echelons of football could well be complete.

Because, by then, he could be a Champions League and German Bundesliga winner with Borussia Dortmund, and would have sampled his first major international tournament with Norway.

The young attacker bludgeoned eleven goals in his first seven appearances for Dortmund, and that incredible output has led fans of BVB to think that he could fire their team to glory on the domestic and continental front – they are into odds of 11/2 in the outright Bundesliga winner betting market.

 At the time of writing on February 25, Dortmund find themselves three points adrift of RB Leipzig in second and four shy of Bayern at the summit of the table.

However, they still have ample chances to close the gap, given that they host the current German champions on April 4th and then travel to the Red Bull franchise on May 9th.

BVB have won five of their last six Bundesliga games, scoring a ridiculous 24 goals in that spell, and such firepower means they will take some stopping from here-on-in.

The Champions League is looking rather promising too. Dortmund won the first leg of their Round of 16 tie with PSG – Haaland bagging a brace in his debut appearance in the competition for his new employer, and while the French side’s away goal complicates matters the Germans will be hopeful of netting an away strike or two of their won with their Norwegian sensation in the ranks.

BVB are still very much outsiders in the betting market at 25/1 to win the Champions League, but with one tentative foot in the quarter finals those odds will surely shorten soon enough.

Norsk Power

It’s been 20 years since Norway appeared in a major international tournament.

They were dumped out of Euro 2000 in the group stage back then, and will be desperate to make up for lost time this time around.

The Norwegians are just three games away from booking their spot at Euro 2020. They must first defeat Serbia in a two-legged tie, which they are favourites to do according to the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers odds, and then get the better of either Scotland or Israel in an all-or-nothing clash. Again, the betting market would favour Haaland & Co over either of those potential opponents.

The winner’s reward? A spot in Group D alongside tournament favourites England and World Cup finalists Croatia.

Haaland, at 19, is a curiously late starter in international football given that he was rattling in the goals for Red Bull Salzburg as far back as January 2019.

He has only made two appearances for his country, and at one point it looked as though he might choose England as his preferred international team – he was born in Leeds after all, and his father Alf Inge spent many years in English football playing for Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

But in the end he opted to follow his Norwegian roots, and after representing them at youth level – scoring plenty of goals, naturally – Haaland made his senior debut in August 2019 as part of their Euro 2020 qualification campaign.

That was the start of a long international career you suspect, and while Norway aren’t giants of the international scene what a fillip it would be if they could take their place in Group D of the European Championships.

For Haaland, it might just cap the most unbelievable of trophy-laden seasons.

Could Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland be the next Lionel Messi?

The talk around Erling Haaland has been so electric if as to ignite fire around just how good he is, and his recent transfer to German team Borussia Dortmund has only added to his lure.

Haaland was at it again at the weekend as he scored two goals in Dortmund’s 5-0 win over Union Berlin. Haaland has already scored 7 goals in just 3 league games for the Bundesliga side and has started in the best possible way.

His pace and vision have been exciting and pundits have praised him. In his last 25 games including playing in Austria last season he has scored 35 goals and one has to be reminded that he only 19. In that respect he looks just as exciting and thrilling as he French international Kylian Mbappe.

Talking of Mbappe Dortmund have been drawn to play PSG in the Champions League and the two players will come together in what should be a mouthwatering 2 legged affair. Normally Haaland would have been cup tied coming to Dortmund in January but UEFA changed the winter transfer rules last summer allowing a further three players to be eligible to be included in a Champions League squad.

Everyone is in agreement that Haaland could be the future star of football and that means he is going to be compared to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact with these two greats getting older the next generation needs to come along and Haaland alongside Mbappe are looking like the players to do just that.

The Norwegian national side will also be excited and if they beat Serbia in the qualifiers they could face a play off game to qualify for Euro 2020. Could it be that one day Haaland leads out Norway into a major tournament final just like Ronaldo did for Portugal? Who knows.

The first objective for Haaland will be the Bundesliga title. Bayern Munich have returned to the top displacing RB Leipzig and they have 42 points. Leipzig have 41 and Dortmund are very close behind on 39. Dortmund have been in superb form and have won their last 3 games in a row scoring an incredible 15 goals in those three games. Bayern’s biggest threat looks like being their old rival Dortmund who they beat of course in the 2013 Champions League final. Could Haaland be the final key in Dortmund’s quest for a first league title since 2012, Bayern are going for their 8th in a row.

Haaland has been so impressive already that if he scored 2 more goals he will already be joint 4th in the top goalscorers this season. The brilliant veteran Robert Lewandowski holds first again with 22. All eyes will be on German football now, well at least it would have peaked the interest of some football fans who will want to follow Haaland’s progress.