After Real Madrid’s goal against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, Karim Benzema’s fans applauded him and made seven points clear of Madrid at the top La Liga.
Karim Benzema praised Real Madrid’s supporters after they chanted “Karim! Ballon d’Or!” as Madrid’s goal against Athletic Bilbao sent them seven points clear at top of La Liga Matches. Madrid is now in control of the Spanish title race after Madrid won 1-0 at Santiago Bernabeu, Benzema’s 20th goal this season in 24 games. Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid coach, said that the team is on a strong run and that he likes the atmosphere in the team. Ancelotti’s team has pulled away from the chasing pack with seven consecutive wins in all competitions. Benzema and the explosive Vinicius Jr have been crucial.
Ancelotti maintained Tuesday that Benzema was not “crying” over losing to Lionel Messi at the Ballon d’Or Monday. The Frenchman finished fourth in the final vote.
There was more to the atmosphere than rebellion when Madrid fans chanted “Karim Ballon d’Or”, and the 33-year old responded by applauding them.
Ancelotti had predicted that Benzema will be more motivated to win next season’s award and perhaps his best hope is to play a key role in Madrid winning La Liga or Champions League.
Real Madrid is now the clear favourite in Spain, despite Barcelona’s rebuilding under Xavi Hernandez. Atletico Madrid has struggled to balance their dependable defense with a wide range of attack options.
They beat Sevilla 2-1 last weekend. Now they face third-placed Real Sociedad, and second-placed Atletico. These fixtures could give them a significant lead if they keep winning.
Athletic is eighth in the standings, with no win now in six.
Ancelotti stated that winning seven consecutive games is not luck. “This Real Madrid is a character. We have other strengths that we can use when we lose with quality.”
Madrid rode their luck against Sevilla, and were again stretched here, with Athletic missing a string of golden chances.
The first was a long, high ball that went over the top. It hit Eder Militao on his back, and Inaki Williams was allowed in. However, he shot wide.
David Alaba then left Thibaut Courtois a long punt downfield, but Williams was there again for his first touch.
Raul Garcia had the best chance with a free header three yards out. Courtois nodded at him and there was an air that Madrid would win.
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Vinicius began it with a driving turn in off the left. After exchanging with Luka Modric, Marco Asensio was fed. Modric’s curled shot was returned to Modric.
The rebound was not a success for him, but it was so bad that it fell into the hands of Benzema who slotted in.
Athletic was still the superior team in the second period, and the home crowd became increasingly angry.
Raul Garcia’s shot was blocked by sliding Lucas Vazquez. Courtois was needed to deny Oihan Santecet. Mikel Vesga should’ve gone in later, but Militao was still there.