Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has explained that goals are the ‘last thing’ Los Blancos staff are looking for from Karim Benzema, prioritising building his fitness after a recent injury layoff.
Benzema missed three games in all competitions because of a muscle complaint last month, before returning to action in the weekend’s La Liga draw against Osasuna.
The Frenchman, who scored 44 times in 2021/22 for his most prolific season to date and is nailed on favourite to win the Ballon d’Or, has not found the net since his return.
That was disappointing against Osasuna when Real couldn’t find another way to win, dropping their first points of the season and leapfrogged at the top of La Liga by Barcelona. But Ancelotti’s side had enough about them to beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“He's feeling great and was crucial thanks to his quality and his positioning. He put in a team performance and was a presence in the penalty area,” Ancelotti said of his captain afterwards.
“He didn't get on the scoresheet, but that's the last thing we're focusing on. His condition has improved a lot and he put in a complete performance.”
Real’s goals on the night both came in the first half from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior, while Shakhtar pulled one back from Oleksandr Zubkov, also before half-time.
Ancelotti played down any injury concerns over Rodrygo, who has thrived this season.
“He picked up a cramp in his calf. It's nothing serious and he'll be fine,” the boss explained.
“He's still got to make some progress, but he's more confident and more clinical now. He's performing at his best here. He's playing more minutes as he deserves them due to what he's contributing in every game.”