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Zidane: “Nothing Benzema does surprises me, he’s a player who can invent things”

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The coach was impressed by the striker’s backheel assist

RCD Espanyol v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid made it five wins from five by defeating Espanyol 1-0 on Sunday night and it was a very special goal, with Karim Benzema setting up Casemiro with a backheel through the legs of Bernardo.

Zinedine Zidane was full of praise for the No.9 in his post-match press conference. Speaking about his fellow Frenchman, Zidane told reporters: “Nothing Karim does surprises me. He is a player who can invent things on the pitch. The control, the backheel and the pass were all amazing. It might be one of the best pieces of play of the whole season. It was a team move.”

In terms of the title race, Zidane doesn’t want to become complacent even now that Real Madrid have a two-point lead over Barcelona. He said: “I’m not thinking about the fact we’re ahead. I think it’ll be decided in the final matchday of the season. Look how difficult this was for us to beat the bottom-placed team. You never know what can happen in LaLiga. They were bottom, but we still had to fight for this win. They played a great game, defending very well. We managed to win and I think we were better physically in the second half.”

Real Madrid were so strong physically, in fact, that they didn’t have to use all five permitted substitutions. They only used two of them. Discussing that, Zidane said: “I didn’t feel the need to make more changes. I just wanted to open up the pitch a bit more with Vinícius and Rodrygo. In some matches I might make one substitution, while in others I might make five. [With Eden Hazard], he came off after he received a knock, but I don’t think it’s anything more than a knock.”