‘We have to play like the first leg’: Karim Benzema and Carlo Ancelotti insist Chelsea still pose a danger for Real Madrid as Spanish papers gear up for return leg… as L’Equipe hammer home his Ballon d’Or credentials
- Karim Benzema hit a hat-trick to help Real Madrid beat Chelsea in the first leg
- But the striker is staying level-headed and wants his side to repeat their showing
- The front pages across Europe feature Benzema prominently on the pages today
- AS highlighted his comments telling his team-mates to ‘play like the first leg’
- Meanwhile, L’Equipe have hailed him as a ‘big favourite’ to win the Ballon d’Or
Karim Benzema and Carlo Ancelotti both feature heavily in the continental sport pages this morning, as they continue to insist Real Madrid must repeat their Champions League quarter-final first leg performance against Chelsea to progress.
The veteran striker settled the first clash with a sensational hat-trick, putting the deflated Blues to the sword and ensuring they have a mountain to climb tonight.
This season, he has scored 37 goals in as many games across all competitions, with 11 of these coming in Europe to help his side reach the final four.
Karim Benzema has insisted Real Madrid must repeat their first leg showing against Chelsea
Memorably, Benzema crashed three beyond Paris Saint-Germain to spark a remarkable turnaround from Madrid’s first leg defeat, and performed similar heroics at Stamford Bridge just a matter of weeks later.
It is hardly surprising, then, that he is the focus of some of the sport pages across Europe, with both AS in Spain and France’s L’Equipe placing him front and centre.
The latter have mocked up a picture of Benzema balancing a golden ball on his finger alongside the large headline ‘Gold on call’, referencing his hopes of winning the Ballon d’Or this season.
Next to the picture, the publication have explained that the 34-year-old is a ‘big favourite’ to lift the coveted accolade, and say he can double down on his ambitions by scoring more goals against Chelsea this evening.
Talismanic striker Benzema hit a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge to hand his side the advantage
The front page of L’Equipe this morning say Benzema is a ‘big favourite’ to win the Ballon d’Or
Meanwhile, AS have opted to focus on the comments from Madrid’s camp ahead of the game. Speaking earlier this week, Benzema said that the LaLiga table toppers must ‘play like the first leg’, hinting at the danger Chelsea can still pose.
The paper also points out that Benzema is the second top scorer in the Champions League this campaign, behind Robert Lewandowski, with Vinicius Junior also creating the most chances so far in the competition.
Speaking at their pre-match press conference yesterday, both Ancelotti and Casemiro have said they will not be drawn in by what they believe to be mind games from Thomas Tuchel, who insisted his side have all been knocked out already.
Questioned on the comments from Tuchel, Casemiro said: ‘We can’t trust the words of Tuchel. We are talking about the reigning champions.’
Carlo Ancelotti says Chelsea will ‘fight’ to overcome the deficit, as he expects a gruelling clash
AS in Spain have focused on the comments from Benzema urging Madrid to step up once again
Ancelotti, meanwhile, added: ‘Chelsea are coming here to fight to get through.
‘They know it’s difficult but they will try because that is the spirit of the big teams, they never give in.
‘We have a lot of respect for Chelsea because they have so much quality and the only way to prepare this game is to expect a Chelsea that will be better than the one we saw last week.
‘We know we will have to suffer in order to get through, but we are ready to suffer.’
Benzema scored two superb headers in the first tie, leaving Chelsea with a mountain to climb
A delighted Ancelotti also waxed lyrical about Benzema, who is just seven goals from catching Raul as the club’s all-time second top scorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
‘Karim is a modern centre-forward,’ he said.
‘In the past the centre-forward was the player who got on the end of the crosses but now it’s about helping the team and even helping with defensive work because you cannot play with one less without the ball.
‘He represents what the modern centre-forward is.’
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