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Benzema: "The team is at its peak"

After a record-breaking 12th consecutive victory over Liverpool secured passage into the knockout stages of the Champions League, Los Blancos spoke about their scorching, momentous form and what it means to advance so quickly in defense of La Decima.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

The man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour--the one and only Karim Benzema talked about Real's overflowing confidence and creativity as well as his love for the Champions League after the side's stirring victory over Brendan Rodgers tattered Liverpool squad, telling reporters:

"The team is at its peak and we will continue to enjoy ourselves like we did today. We created a lot of chances and we are all attacking and defending together. I really like the Champions League, it is a competition I score a lot of goals in. I'm not sure if I'm at my peak but I feel 100% and am full of confidence."

In what was a great development, he also spoke of his appreciation for the hometown fans, a group that have often voiced their displeasure with the French striker:

"I can only say thanks to the supporters. I will continue to work for them."

Captain Iker Casillas, who kept another clean sheet in front of the frenzied Bernabeu faithful, spoke excitedly about what such brisk, emphatic qualification to the Round of 16 meant to the team, telling Spanish television:

"We have done our homework and we can now focus on La Liga, the King's Cup and the Club World Cup. We are very pleased. We have had some very tough and difficult matches recently and once we went 1-0 ahead we controlled the game."

Those words should warm the hearts of Madridistas around the globe while simultaneously striking fear and terror into the hearts of every professional footballer in Spain, as they denote a team with a laser-like focus and intensity geared to match their superlative, otherworldly class.

The fact that such focus is so evident when complacency could so easily seep into such an accomplished side is a huge credit to the masterful, magisterial management of Carlo Ancelotti. The Italian seems effortlessly to be making all the right decisions and he spoke, as Casillas did, about Real's ability to control the match, qualification, the importance of the superb Big Benz and other topics afterwards:

"It was a good match, we did not play at a high tempo because we did not need to. We scored in the first half and controlled the game without taking risks. We were comfortable on the pitch and tried to score more goals. We controlled the game and the victory is well deserved. Although we have qualified, our plans haven't really changed much for the upcoming games. We still have to finish the group in first place and, like always, we have to respect the competition. We always play the same way. We can prepare for the Club World Cup by playing."

On the subject of the surging French international, he noted:

"Benzema is enjoying a good run of form, I don't know if it is the best of his career, but it is his best form since I have been here. I really like how he works for the team, he is a really important player for us."

Ancelotti spoke humbly about Real's record-shattering string of victories, also placing emphasis on focus and motivation:

"What makes me happy is how the team is playing, how they prepare for matches and how motivated they are. Records are less important. They are nice, but I prefer to think about how we can win three points on Saturday."

Regarding Cristiano, Gareth Bale and others, he said:

"Cristiano was focused on the game, he didn't score but we didn't talk about records together. He did not score but he will in the next match. He wasn't frustrated not to have scored. I would get frustrated when I played because I never scored. He played well and was happy with the win. I was impressed with Bale. He did not start because following an injury it is normal to play for 30 minutes. He was fine and had no problems. He will start the match on Saturday. Varane played very well, he was really focused on the game."

Interesting assessments of a solid performance.

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