Carlo Ancelotti said Karim Benzema is “back” and ready to deliver for a Real Madrid team who are still hungry for trophies ahead of the Spanish Supercopa Clasico final with Barcelona on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Benzema has struggled with persistent hamstring problems in an injury-hit season so far — being sent home from France’s World Cup squad before the tournament began — but has scored four goals in his last three games, including a penalty in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Valencia in Saudi Arabia.
The Supercopa is the second of a possible six trophies Madrid are chasing this campaign after they won the UEFA Super Cup in August, with the Club World Cup, Copa del Rey, LaLiga and the Champions League all up for grabs.
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“Benzema is back,” coach Ancelotti said in a news conference on Saturday. “That gives us a lot of confidence, for the next few games and for this second half of the season. He looks motivated and he’s training well.
“He’s a very important player for us. I think the team dealt well with his absence in the first half [of the season] and he’ll help us in this second half.”
Benzema’s 2021-22 season — with his 27 goals in LaLiga and 15 in the Champions League firing Madrid to the Double — saw him win the Ballon d’Or in October. Ancelotti denied that last season’s successes had left the team with a lack of hunger for more trophies.
“It’s not true,” he said. “We’re talking about players who didn’t just win last year. They’re players who’ve been winning since 2013 and they’re still winning. Their stomachs have never got full and they never will… We’re at a very demanding club. It doesn’t allow you to think that your stomach is full.”