Zidane hails Benzema in Madrid Champions League final

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane praised Karim Benzema but insisted he wasn’t surprised by the star striker after his goal performance as Los Blancos battled for a 1-1 draw against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.

Benzema saved Madrid on Tuesday – the Frenchman canceling Christian Pulisic’s opening game in the 14th minute just before the opening half hour of the semi-final in the Spanish capital.

Madrid’s Benzema has once again shown his importance by moving closer to Raul as the fourth top scorer in Champions League history after scoring his 71st goal.

Only Lionel Messi (36) and Cristiano Ronaldo (35) have scored against more different opponents in the Champions League than Benzema (33, tied with Raul).

Benzema, meanwhile, has scored six Champions League goals this season. In just one of his 16 seasons in the competition, he scored more (seven in 2011-12).

“Karim is amazing and I’m happy for him, but I’m not surprised with what he does in every game,” Zidane told reporters.

“It’s the same with all my players. These are the most important. They’ve made a great effort again tonight and kept the faith in what we’re doing.

“There are difficulties, of course, because we have a great team ahead of us and it’s a Champions League semi-finals. We have suffered.

“But I’m very happy for all the players because we’re alive. We know we have to go to London and score goals to win the game. “

Los Blancos were unable to find a winner in a more difficult second half. They have faced Chelsea more often than any other team in all competitions without winning in their entire history, failing to do so in four matches (D2 L2).

Benzema’s goal was Madrid’s lone shot on target against Chelsea. It was only against Paris Saint-Germain in September 2019 – when they had none – that they have had less in a Champions League game since Opta started collecting such data. in 2003-04.

Meanwhile, it was the only game in which Madrid failed to score at least two home goals this season in the Champions League, although they have still scored the most home goals so far in the competition (14).

“We were much better within 45 seconds. We were much more organized. They started strong and fast, but I think it’s a good result, ”said Zidane.

“We wanted to lobby individually, but when you don’t do it well, things are difficult. Once we scored we were better and had a lot more control over the game.

“We’re alive and we’re going to the second leg with the idea of ​​winning. In general, we are satisfied with this evening.

Madrid were without captain Sergio Ramos due to a calf injury but he could return for the second leg in London, Zidane adding: “I wish he could be with us. I can’t tell you now.

“Sergio hasn’t trained with the squad so we’re waiting for him. We hope it can be as soon as possible.

“All the players, Sergio and the rest. Lucas [Vazquez] is a little more complicated because of his injury, but also Ferland [Mendy], Alliance [Valverde]. All. I want all my players to be with me, of course.

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