The Frenchman has heaped praised upon a fellow countryman ahead of the Blancos’ midweek clash with Granada
Karim Benzema is playing the best football of his career for Real Madrid but can still improve, according to head coach Zinedine Zidane.
Former France forward Benzema scored one goal and created two more in Madrid’s 3-1 win at Eibar on Sunday.
The 33-year-old’s latest telling contributions, following on from a brace against Athletic Bilbao, took him to seven goals and five assists for the champions in La Liga this season.
He leads Madrid in both regards, also topping the charts in terms of shots (40), shots on target (18) and big chances created for his team-mates from which they would be expected to score (five, tied with Rodrygo).
Benzema is averaging 1.0 goals or assists per 90 minutes this term, his best rate across a season since 2015-16 (1.4).
Leading the line alone this term, unlike in that campaign when Cristiano Ronaldo carried the burden, Zidane has been delighted by his number nine’s form.
Asked if this was Benzema’s best-ever stretch, the coach told reporters: “I think so, yes. Most recently he’s been in his best form. What he’s doing recently, he’s been phenomenal.
“What’s yet to come? I think Karim can even get better than he is now – that’s what we all hope, for the team, for him, personally.
“On top, it’s his ambition. He wants to get better as well as a player. That’s very important.”
Benzema has played 12 of Madrid’s 14 league games, but they took just one point from the two matches he missed.
Indeed, Madrid have won all seven of the fixtures Thibaut Courtois, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Benzema – the team’s spine – have started together, claiming only two victories when at least one of that quartet have been absent.
Zidane’s team selection has therefore come under scrutiny with the topic of rotation broached at Tuesday’s news conference before a midweek clash with Granada.
“You guys make me laugh in a good way,” said the Blancos head coach. “In the end, if I rotate, you ask me why I do it; if I don’t, you ask me why I don’t.
“I have it clear what I want to do and how I want to deal with my players. I’m going to count on every one of my players.
“It’s true that recently the team has been playing very well and we’ve rotated less, but I think the players are ready and training very well.
“I think the important thing is with the amount of games coming up – and we have a lot of games coming up – when a squad player gets called upon, he is ready and ready to do a job. That’s exactly what they’re doing.”
Despite the reliance on their key men, Madrid are level on points with rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, although Diego Simeone’s men have two games in hand.
Real Sociedad, who have played a further game more, are three points back in third, but Zidane is not yet calling a two-horse race.
“We know how difficult this league is. You ask me about Atletico Madrid, they are going to say the same thing as me,” he said.
“There are a lot of teams here that are going to challenge for this league title. That’s the beautiful thing with this league; there are no easy games, you have to always battle, you have to always go out on the pitch to suffer and to win, it’s always difficult.
“In any way, we’re going to face difficult teams until the end to win this league.”