Karim Benzema says playing for Real Madrid CF has enhanced his striking instincts, with the ex-Olympique Lyonnais starlet fixing his sights on compatriots and group rivals Olympique de Marseille.
Article top media content
Karim Benzema says that playing for Real Madrid CF has enhanced his striking instincts, with the former Olympique Lyonnais starlet now fixing his sights on French compatriots and Wednesday's Group C opponents Olympique de Marseille.
The 21-year-old left Lyon for the Santiago Bernabéu in the summer and says he is already feeling the benefits of operating in a more defined forward position under Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini. "I feel more like a striker at Madrid than I did at Lyon," he said. "I used to have to drop back into midfield to get the ball, but now I can be more attacking because I have quality team-mates like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká."
If the sheer breadth of talent at Pellegrini's disposal has resulted in Benzema having to share playing time with Gonzalo Higuaín, the squad rotation situation hardly seems to have dented the French international's confidence. Madrid's new No11 has three goals from four Liga outings so far. "Sometimes players can annoy each other but results have been good so far," he said.
As fine as his form has been, Benzema is wary of being upstaged when a former Santiago Bernabéu favourite returns home, with Fernando Morientes set to line up for Marseille. The 33-year-old won two Spanish championships and three UEFA Champions League titles with Madrid between 1997 and 2005, and Benzema recognises that he remains a dangerous adversary.
"I've seen him many times, he's a great striker," he said, recalling Morientes's performance in Madrid's 3-0 victory over Valencia CF in a one-sided UEFA Champions League final at the Stade de France. "I remember the 2000 final when he scored the opener with his head. He also played well against Madrid when he was at AS Monaco in 2003/04 [scoring in each leg of a quarter-final success]. We have to be wary of him."