Real Madrid boss Ancelotti backs Benzema and Hazard to shine
Recently-retired French international Karim Benzema has struggled with injuries but his manager expects more from the Ballon d’Or winner.
October may have seen Karim Benzema lift the Ballon d’Or trophy but the Frenchman cannot rest on his laurels. There was little surprise when the striker was voted the world’s best player having netted 44 times in the 46 games across the 2021-22 season, which pushed Real Madrid to both LaLiga Santander and Champions League triumphs.
His outstanding performances haven’t materialised into the new season but he was suitably returned to the France national team squad for the late World Cup in Qatar. His nation would miss out on retaining the global title on a penalty shootout to Argentina. How different it may have been had Benzema not been ruled out from the start with injury.
Ancelotti on Benzema quality
And so we return to domestic matters, and ahead of Los Blancos game against Valladolid, manager Carlo Ancelotti is expecting all of his pre-injury quality to come flooding back onto the pitch.
“We’ve got Benzema back and that’s good. He came back on 10 December, began working with the team, played 30 minutes and 45 minutes in friendlies and he’s been doing really well. He’s full of enthusiasm.
“He knows that he’s not had the best of starts to this season and now wants to show more in the second half. He’s going to show off all his quality in this stretch of the season. The schedule is going to demand a lot from us, with many games up until March.
“We’ll do individual evaluations of the players, which is vital. Three have returned today [Thursday] and can play tomorrow, but we will have to assess them all in detail. We will determine who needs rest and who needs to train. The only thing that is clear is that there will be no days off until March.”
Ancelotti on Madrid’s January signings
The Italian boss may be clear about the intensity involved in the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean that Madrid are looking to bring in reinforcements during the January transfer window.
“We’re doing very well,” he said. “We don’t need new players. We’re better than last year, I think, just have a look.”
At the end of this season, as well as young talent Endrick arriving, a number of players will see their contracts end. Ancelotti is as relaxed as always.
“It is an issue that doesn’t worry me. Ceballos, Asensio, Modric, Kroos... we will evaluate all of the cases. And I want to make one thing very clear. Between now and June I have complete confidence in these players. If they feel that the best thing is for them to leave then I will be happy for them.”
And one other player got a special mention.
“I see that Hazard is better than before the World Cup. With so many games coming up, he will be one of the players I will use.”