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Bernabeu Bites: Karim Benzema And The French Connection

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Welcome to Bernabeu Bites where every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday we take you around the world of Real Madrid, la Liga and European Football in tasty bite-size form. So grab your favorite beverage, sit back, relax and enjoy!

Well, according to the Real Madrid Facebook page, they're off to Croatia for tomorrow's Champions League match. European football is in the air, as Real Madrid undertake the quest for the club's 10th European Title. While we know that for the most part the group stage is a mere formality, anything can--and most likely will--happen.

Over the weekend, Real Madrid collected an ugly win against Getafe, 4-2. Had on-loan player Pedro Leon taken the pitch against los blancosGetafe would've had to pay a healthy sum of €2 Million for his services.

Real Madrid are known for this sort of clause in loan contracts when it involves other la Liga sides.

Boss Jose Mourinho wasn't very happy with the way his side performed. In his post match press conference he even admitted that the foul against Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't a foul and was instead an error on the part of the referee.

"It wasn't a penalty," said Mourinho, who insisted that it had been a foul.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is not a player who dives," said the coach, who was unhappy with his side's display. "I am not pleased with the team, I didn't like the way we played. We scored four goals and could have scored eight, but I am not happy. Getafe could also have scored more goals,"

French international Karim Benzema scored twice during Real Madrid's win, and the Special One noted in his presser that while Benzema's transformation was Karim's own doing, he has received advice from fellow countryman, and First Team Director, Zinedine Zidane.

"Benzema deserves full credit for his transformation. He had some help from me, from his team-mates and from Zizou, but he deserves the credit," Mourinho told the club's official website.

"Benzema has a fantastic attitude and he always had quality. People see that."

With Champions League play kicking off today, we're seeing a lot of press conferences going on. One of the more interesting ones came from Arsene Wenger before Arsenal's match versus Borussia Dortmund. He's fearful of Spanish football, and is worried that English Clubs cannot keep up and challenge teams, like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

"Two teams are above the rest this season, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The rest have to catch up during the season. The competition inside our country has become harder. And outside, Barcelona and Real Madrid have much more financial power."

Former Real Madrid striker Raul could see a return to the Bernabeu after he hangs up his boots. He's still under contract with Shalke until the end of next summer, at which point he will be 35-years-old. He passed up a chance to play for English Premier side Blackburn in the last transfer window. He's already started thinking about his future after football as a player, and Real Madrid would welcome him with open arms.

"Raul is turning 35 years of age and he is under contract until June 2012. He needs to know how the current season will turn out," Carvajal told the Spanish-based Terra media.

"We have agreed that the end of the season is a perfect moment to discuss the future. It is agreed that he will be given a role at Real Madrid when he hangs up his boots and has retired from the game."

Even though the next transfer widow is months away, it seems that there is still interest in displaced midfielder Lassana DiarraThe interest comes from Serie A side Roma--they tried for a deadline deal, but AS Roma could only get Fernando Gago. While Lass would prefer a move to the Premier League, at this point if he wants out of the Bernabeu his best and only option, it seems, would be a move to Italy.

In one of the funnier quotes I've read in some time, Cristiano Ronaldo has been out pimping a documentary called "Ronaldo, Tested To The Limit," which was put together by the people at Castrol EDGE (motor oil if you're keeping track at home). He was interviewed by a Russian website, and was asked if he had ever thought about a move to play in the Russian league.

"Why not? I know that the Russian football championship is becoming stronger and I have no objections to someday be playing in your country. In football, you never know what will happen. So if I end up in Russia, one shouldn't raise his eyebrows in surprise," he said.

However, he admitted that a possible move could be done much later in his career, adding, "At the moment I'm quite comfortable with Real."

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