• Departure Real Madrid announces the final goodbye of Karim Benzema
  • Direct This is how we live it

Between July 20, 2009 and June 4, 2023, 5,067 days have passed. Almost 14 years in which Karim Benzema has gone from being a 21-year-old boy who had just arrived from a neighborhood of Lyon to an absolute legend of Real Madrid. On his last day at the Santiago Bernabeu, in his last greeting, his last photo and his last goodbye, the Frenchman scored his last goal in the draw against Athletic Club.

The surroundings of Chamartín were filled with t-shirts with the surname of the Gaul, protagonist of an afternoon of farewells in the Castellana. There was also the final applause for Asensio, Mariano and Hazard, casualties that expand the salary space of the Real Madrid portfolio towards a summer of hard work.

Benzema did not change his pre-match routine one iota. He jumped on the pitch with his teammates for the warm-up, greeted the stands, exercised and retired from the last to the dressing room tunnel, sharpening his aim with Vinicius and Rodrygo, his two great companions in the attack of Madrid these two years.

Already on the pitch, the match found him somewhat out of shape, like the last weeks of the season. He has only played 3 of the last 7 league matches and he noticed. It cost him to sprint and move with the agility of yesteryear and emotionally weighed on his farewell, receiving the ovation of the stadium when he touched his first ball.

It also cost Madrid, flat and without spark against an Athletic Club that was playing place in European positions. The people of Bilbao found a prize very early, although they did not take advantage of it. In the 6th minute, Díaz de Mera punished with a penalty a hand of Toni Kroos, who opened his arms in a jump and saw how the ball hit him from behind. Courtois, fortunately for Real Madrid, stopped Vesga's throw.

The stands celebrated the Belgian's action, but he returned to what mattered: "Karim, Karim, Karim Benzema!" In the absence of large banners and tributes (that will be on Tuesday at an event in Valdebebas), the Bernabéu gave its captain all the chants he knew.

Vinicius and Rüdiger were able to overtake Madrid, but they met Unai Simon in a first half without rhythm or dangerous chances. The visitors relied on the speed of the Williams brothers, the most active. In Madrid, Rodrygo and Vinicius put the best actions, but it was not their day either.

After the break, a loss of Ceballos led to the 0-1. Courtois stopped the first definition of Sancet, who was left alone in the area after the loss of the Andalusian, but could not with the second. The Belgian, enraged, began with his string of quarrels to the companions. He avoided Iñaki's 0-2 on two occasions.

As the second half progressed, the Bernabeu stirred to celebrate the legend of Karim Benzema. In the 70th, the Frenchman scored Yuri's penalty on Militao, put the 1-1 in the match, scored his 354th goal with the Madrid shirt, the 19th in this League, stretched his arms, sent kisses to the stands and looked at the sky. There was his last effort dressed in white.

At the moment, Ancelotti removed him from the field to take the tribute he so deserved. With a calm step and looking non-stop at the stands, the Frenchman returned with applause the ovation of a fan that will always have him in his memory. Once in the band, he hugged Carlettofor a few seconds and hugged all the members of the coaching staff one by one.

Without Benzema, the game was at the feet of Vinicius, who was again the best of Madrid. The Brazilian invented a spectacular play in the final stretch from the right wing to the small area, but Rodrygo defined high.

Ancelotti, always elegant, saved a change for the end and retired Marco Asensio, who had entered the second half, in the discount so that the Balearic said goodbye to the Bernabéu taking the second ovation of the afternoon.

After the final whistle, the players slapped Benzema, Asensio, Hazard and Mariano and took a lap of honor with the Frenchman as the center of the chants: "Golden Ball, Karim Golden Ball!" And there was also time for Nacho and Ceballos, whose continuity is not entirely clear.

  • Real Madrid
  • Karim Benzema
  • Marco Asensio
  • Carlo Ancelotti

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