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Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema plays down goal dependence, hypes up Vinicius Jr.-Eden Hazard combo

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Karim Benzema has denied that Real Madrid are over-dependent on his goals ahead of their Champions League opener at Inter Milan on Wednesday.

Benzema scored a hat trick in Madrid’s 5-2 LaLiga win over Celta Vigo this weekend and has shouldered the burden of scoring Madrid’s goals since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.

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When asked if Madrid suffer from “Benzema-dependence” ahead of the group D game, he said: “No. We’re a strong team. What I have to do is help my team always with assists and goals. The most important thing is we have to win something, but that’s for the whole team.”

The France forward scored 23 league goals for Real Madrid last season — and 30 in all competitions — while their next highest scorer was midfielder Casemiro with six.

So far this campaign, winger Vinicius Junior has stepped up with four goals in four LaLiga games, which is already more than his tally for last year.

“Vini is a young player but he has experience now,” Benzema said. “He’s helped us a lot so far this season scoring goals, he helps us with his pace and he’ll help us all year… If I can help him to triumph at Madrid I will because I believe in him, he’s a top player.”

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The Brazil international, 21, and Eden Hazard are now Benzema’s partners in attack, hoping to replicate the success he enjoyed as part of the “BBC” with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, winning four Champions League titles from 2014 to 2018.

“I don’t know if we can match that,” he said. “It’s a different time, a different style, different players. What I did with Cristiano and Bale is over now, it was a trio that will always be there in football. But Eden and Vinicius are great players.”

In October 2020, tunnel footage from halftime in Madrid’s 2-2 Champions League draw with Borussia Monchengladbach appeared to show Benzema criticising Vinicius, in conversation with teammate Ferland Mendy.

“I’ll speak sincerely,” he said on Tuesday. “What matters to me now is that Vini is good on the pitch, scores goals and helps us a lot. Tomorrow we have an important game.”

Benzema said he “doesn’t lose sleep” over winning the Ballon d’Or, but that “every player dreams about winning it one day, and I do too.”



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