A golden ball shattered.
Millions held their breath as their hearts sunk beneath the royal badge.
The worst had happened.
Karim Benzema, Real Madrid’s gilded nine, left the Champions League opener against Celtic in the 30th minute.
Every half step from Benzema’s injured right leg put lightyears between Madrid and the European crown. France and the World Cup. Benzema and the dream of bringing the trophy back to both.
Hazard comes in for the injured Karim Benzema 🤕 pic.twitter.com/CAlvhbw489
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 6, 2022
The final blow of the whistle in Glasgow meant victory for Real Madrid at the cost of their star.
The hefty price of sleep that night would be rewarded the next morning as the team assessed Benzema.
“Following tests carried out on our player Karim Benzema by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with an injury to the semitendinosus tendon and a strain to the quadricep muscle in his right thigh,” the club’s statement read foregoing a timeframe for the Frenchman’s return.
A match against Mallorca wouldn’t test Carlo Ancelotti’s, now-headless, Chimera as Madrid powered through a 4-1 win.
But the real question marks lay ahead for Ancelotti.
The omniscient managing wizard behind Madrid’s decimocuarta would have to replace the talisman that willed the club to glory last season.
Would a European clash against a Christopher Nkunku-winged RB Leipzig mean the end of Madrid’s continental fairytale in Group F?
Could the newest edition of the Madrid Derby be the first blood drawn for a Real side yet to drop a domestic point?
The answer was no and emphatically no.
Faced with the blade, a hydra emerged.
Vinícius Jr. and Rodrygo, Brazilian seeds bloomed under the Madrilenian sun in a trio finished by Federico Valverde, the Uruguyan gazelle, able to run from Montevideo to Madrid in one breath.
A 2-0 win over Leipzig followed by a 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid meant perfection for Ancelotti’s men heading into the international break.
Who were we to doubt Ancelotti?
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 18, 2022
There is a lesson to be learned for all who look to brave the kings of Europe this season.
Simple in words, yet arduous to overcome.
Benzema’s time away from the pitch proved valuable to a Madrid that’s shown its prowess in its depth and systemic strength.
Teams will need more than a bad night from Benzema to challenge a team that’s grown above the Frenchman’s bounty.
For now, Madrid’s white cape lays spotless as they await their star’s return.
Everyone else, stare and prepare to chase the kings of Europe.
9️⃣ / 9️⃣ pic.twitter.com/YNFiT4WzwG
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) September 21, 2022