Rafa Benitez has explained why he substituted Real Madrid goal scorer Karim Benzema in the draw with Atletico Madrid.
Benitez’s repeated decision to replace the France international, the club’s top scorer this season, has drawn criticism from supporters and there have been reports Benzema isn’t happy about it either.
“Why take off Benzema? I had to balance the team,” Benitez explained, Marca reports, in an appearance on COPE.
“Atletico were coming at us down the wings and we had to adjust. We wanted the power and speed of Gareth Bale to counter because they were pushing a lot.
“When a team comes at you and pushes you back, you have to get out. And there are two options: Get out by passing and playing if you can, but we couldn’t really do that as they were on top.
“Or play long, hold on to the ball and counter-attack, and we weren’t able to do that either. And so we had to defend, not because I brought the team back but because they were pushing.
“It doesn’t bother me if Karim is angry. I would be if I was him, that the Coach had taken me off when I was doing well and I was on a roll.
“The only thing I would do if I was Karim, which is what I hope he does because I have no doubts about him, is to score more goals. And that way, next time the Coach won’t substitute me.
“He’s a player I love, a phenomenon. I like him a lot, he’s one of the best strikers in the world.
“I maintain his challenge is to score 20 or 25 goals which he has to do and if he carries on like this, he’ll do it.”