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Zidane: “This win over Athletic was our best match since my return”

Real Madrid CF v RC Celta de Vigo - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Karim Benzema turned in yet another impressive performance and scored all three goals in the victory over Athletic Club, leading Zinedine Zidane to label him the best centre-forward in the world. Even if the coach admitted that others will think differently, he is backing his compatriot and is thrilled with his latest masterpiece.

“I don’t know if he is the best No.9 in the world because there are many good players,” Zidane said when asked how Benzema compares to other elite strikers. “For me he is the best, but others can think something else. I’m not surprised by what he’s been doing. I know what kind of player he is. We know what he can do for the team. It’s true that what he’s doing in a scoring sense is impressive and I am happy for him. He knows he can always do things better and he wants to improve. The others have been helping him out.”

Analysing the match as a whole, Zidane labelled this the best performance since his return to the Santiago Bernabéu dugout. “We feel good and had a good match,” the Frenchman stated. “It’s true that we played better in the second half, but we also played well in the first half and started well. There was good attitude. We interpreted the match well. Once we scored the first, it changed everything. That’s what happens in football. We conceded one good chance to Iñaki Williams, but I think that was the only one. We showed many things today and this was our best match yet.”

One negative from the afternoon was the fact that Gareth Bale was whistled yet again, although Zidane didn’t want to get involved in any discussion of the jeering. “I’m not going to get involved in these things you want to ask me and I’ll answer this in the way I want to,” he said. “Bale had a chance to score today and I’d have liked him to score for his sake.”

Similarly, he wished Brahim Díaz had been able to hit the back of the net as well. “What I like about Brahim is that when he takes the ball he likes to go towards goal,” he said of the substitute. “He had one chance and it’s a shame for him that he didn’t score.”

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