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Benzema faces fan backlash as Al-Ittihad struggles in Saudi League

Posted : 30 December 2023

Despite Karim Benzema's decent individual performance with nine goals and five assists in 15 league appearances for Al-Ittihad, the Saudi champions find themselves in sixth place, 22 points adrift of the top spot.

 

This unexpected situation has led frustrated fans to direct their ire at the high-profile French striker, dubbing him a "cat" instead of the revered tiger nickname associated with the team.

 

The fans' dissatisfaction escalated after a 5-2 defeat to Al-Nassr, prompting Benzema to deactivate his Instagram account to avoid a potential influx of negative comments.

 

While the club's management acknowledges that the new signings, including Benzema, have not delivered the anticipated results, they express understanding for the challenges of adapting to a new country and league.

 

A source close to the club conveyed that patience is still intact, recognizing Benzema's world-class status, despite expectations not being met immediately.

 

Nevertheless, criticisms have mounted, particularly regarding Benzema's missed penalty in the FIFA Club World Cup quarter-finals against Al Ahly, intensifying discontent among supporters who expected better results, especially considering Al-Ittihad's hosting of the tournament.

 

The team's overall performance, with the fewest goals scored (34) and the most conceded (26) among the Saudi wealth fund-acquired clubs, has contributed to fan frustration, even leading to the dismissal of coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

 

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