MX23RW : Friday, April 26 14:32:15| >> :600:7769554:7769554:
Jan 27, 2019 at 7.45pm UK at ​RCDE Stadium (Cornella de Llobregat)
Espanyol
2-4
Real Madrid
Baptistao (25'), Rosales (81')
FT(HT: 1-3)
Benzema (4', 45'), Ramos (15'), Bale (67')
Varane (72')

Solari hails 'selfless' Benzema one of the game's top strikers

Solari hails 'selfless' Benzema one of the game's top strikers
© Reuters
The France international has scored 13 goals in all competitions this season

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari believes Karim Benzema is currently one of the world's leading strikers and someone who makes the players around him better.

Benzema notched his 13th goal of the season in all competitions in Thursday night's Copa del Rey win against Girona.

The France international has continued to be a standout performer for the European champions despite nursing a hand injury sustained in the recent win at Real Betis.

"Benzema has been around a long time and has had a lot of highs throughout his career," Solari told a press conference before Sunday's LaLiga game at Espanyol.

"He's in great form and is having a brilliant season. The way he understands the game and the effort he puts in make him a very generous player.

"He improves those around him. He's played most of the games this season and he's also showing himself to be selfless now that he's playing with a fractured phalanx.

"I believe that he's one of the best strikers around right now."

Karim Benzema has shrugged off a hand injury to play in Real Madrid's last two matches
Karim Benzema has shrugged off a hand injury to play in Real Madrid's last two matches (Peter Byrne/PA)

Solari's side turned in one of their best displays of the season last weekend when beating high-flying Sevilla 2-0 at the Bernabeu, and followed up by taking a 4-2 advantage over Girona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final.

The club are chasing a third straight league win since losing at home to Real Sociedad earlier this month, but are 10 points behind leaders Barcelona.

"Right from the off, we'll need to perform just as we have done in our last two games, with the utmost focus and concentration to keep our performance levels up," Solari added.

"We need the players to maintain the intensity and energy levels that they've shown in our last two games."

Solari will be boosted by the return to contention of Gareth Bale, sidelined since early January due to a calf injury, and Marco Asensio, who has missed the last four league games with a thigh problem.

Espanyol have slipped to 13th in the table after losing eight of their last nine league games, but boss Rubi is convinced his side will recapture their early-season form and turn their fortunes round.

"I'm very much optimistic because I know that we will finish the season as we started, with many points," he told a press conference. "We are not discouraged, nor do we have doubts.

"It will be very difficult against Real, to win you have to play a perfect match.

"But I'm thinking about this game, thinking that if you take it forward, the momentum it generates is very great."


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Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior in action against Sevilla on January 19, 2019.
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City35292489226789
2Liverpool35277179205988
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs352311165353070
4Chelsea35207859382167
5Arsenal35206969462366
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd35197963501364
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves35149124443151
8Watford35148135050050
9Everton35147145044649
10Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley35117174462-1840
16Southampton35910164158-1737
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3597193254-2234
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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