Gary Lineker brands Benzema 'overrated,' Spanish pundits hit back
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker had the tables turned on him by Spanish pundits after the BT Sport presenter questioned Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema's quality on Twitter during Spurs' 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Madrid had the clearer opportunities over the 90 minutes of their Champions League Group H clash, with Benzema pulling a shot wide of an open goal in the first half, and then being denied at point-blank range by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the break.
Lineker clearly felt Benzema should have done better, and tweeted to his 6.6 million followers that the France striker was "rescued" by strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Is it me or is Benzema a tad overrated? A goal every other game in a team as strong as Real Madrid is nada especial. Decent not great.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 17, 2017
Hmmm not a weakness you'd want as a striker. Does Ronaldo's brilliance rescue him? https://t.co/WY5BC3CK3u— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 17, 2017
Pundits in Spain have also often questioned Benzema's efficiency in front of goal, but on the TV show "El Chiringuito" the wagons were circled when they felt their own player was being criticised from abroad.
"I know where [Lineker] is going with that," said ex-Chelsea midfielder Quique de Lucas. "He wants to defend Harry Kane, with people now putting him up at Benzema's level. But you must win that status. For me Benzema today is a better player than Harry Kane."
Worse for Lineker was AS quickly unearthing the stat that the former England captain scored 48 goals in his 128 games for Barcelona in the 1980s. By his own reckoning, such a record of 0.37 goals per game was also "nada especial," they pointed out.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan