Real Madrid: Gonzalo Higuain & Karim Benzema; One or the Other, or Neither?

Muazzin MehrbanCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2011

Higuain will have to fight to stay off the bench
Higuain will have to fight to stay off the benchDavid Ramos/Getty Images

Every player is judged in a short space of time. Perhaps with Real Madrid, the pressure of being a front man is as great as any club in the world.

Every striker is judged against the legacy left by Raúl.

The princely striker's crown is now being fought over by Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema, an almost beauty and the beast-type battle. What is clear, however, is that with Madrid’s plethora of attacking, free-scoring midfielders, Benzema and Higuain are being left to tussle over one spot in the Starting XI.

Speak to players, coaches, pundits and fans, and there is an even divide over who should hold the realm of the 18-yard box. But is it a case of both being so very good that makes it a hard choice, or that neither has genuinely lived up to their billing, or at least Real’s esteemed billing?

Higuain is light footed, graceful and sweeps across the grass. Benzema is a more brutal, physically imposing striker but no less capable of finishing. A brash statement it might sound, but neither player appears to have the bottle. The Argentine has, on occasions, fluffed his lines when it is has mattered most, while France’s number nine does have a habit of going missing when needed most.

In all honesty, over the past few seasons, while both have been residents at the Bernabéu, Madrid’s match winners have come from deeper in the field. Cristiano Ronaldo for the past two seasons, Mesut Ozil last year and now Kaka also appears to be in the groove.

With such riches in behind the strikers, maybe it is less a case of who is the better out-and-out striker but more a case of who best supplements the cavalry behind. In truth, like their all conquering rivals Barcelona, Real also need their front man to be malleable, just as David Villa has proved to be for Barcelona.

Villa’s lack of goals recently have not gone unnoticed, but there has been no compromise in his input to the goals others have scored.

It might even been suggested that both strikers, since their arrival, have had it somewhat cushy, despite their lack of success.

There has been no let up in Ronaldo since his world record transfer fee. Ozil has taken to Madrid waters like a duck. Kaka, despite injuries has, unlike the two forwards, at least had to stare down the barrel until now.

Real should opt to start with a striker deemed better at playing with his back to goal. But does that rule out Higuain and Benzema all together? Carlos Tevez will be looking for a new home, and soon.