Karim Benzema has scored five goals in his last three Real Madrid appearances, earning praise from head coach Santiago Solari.
Santiago Solari hailed Karim Benzema's hot streak but hit out at those who have failed to recognise the Real Madrid striker's contribution to the team. Benzema hit a first-half double as Madrid eased past Girona 3-1 in the second leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday, a 7-3 aggregate win earning a last-four berth.
The former France forward has now hit five goals in his last three appearances for Madrid, with an understanding with Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior growing by the game. Benzema has often been a lightning rod for criticism during his time at the Santiago Bernabéu, but his goals have carried the team through a period that has seen Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio sidelined by injury.
Some fans have been too hard on Benzema
And Solari indicated he feels Benzema has been unfairly maligned by Madrid supporters when he spoke after his side progressed to the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
"I'm sorry for those who have discovered Benzema last week," he said. "But hey, they still have time to enjoy him, he is in a great moment, it's true."
Bale and Asensio both came off the bench but Solari indicated the attacking duo may not go straight into his side when they are fully fit. "The players who come out of injury have to find their rhythm," he said. "But now we are all recovered and the truth is that I wish there were more changes [substitutions] in football, not just three, because I want to see everyone. Now we start mixing the competitions, but it's normal if we want to aspire to everything, which is why it's important to have all the players. We are going to give the fight on all fronts and the players know it more than me, because it is the registered trademark of the club. Real Madrid is always there, it's always waiting for you, that competitive spirit is carried by this team, it's a team of warriors and winners, our challenge is to keep doing it."
Madrid could face holders Barcelona in a Clásico semi-final clash, with Real Betis and Valencia their other potential opponents in the last four. "It's a hypothesis that will be unveiled tomorrow [when the draw is made]," Solari continued. "It's normal, when you aspire to win everything you have to prepare to face all the fronts and for that you need all the players to be involved, as they are."