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Rafa Benitez: “Madrid will try to take advantage of Vinicius’s speed behind Alexander-Arnold.”

The former Real Madrid man also revealed some things from his time at the club, and said that Cristiano wasn’t happy

Valencia CF v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by Aitor Colomer/Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Former Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez, whose stint at the club in the 2015 - 2016 season was cut short due to poor football and poor results, spoke to Spanish media outlet Marca in an interview which was released in full today. Benitez, whose job was taken over by Zinedine Zidane, was candid that he felt that his Real Madrid side were better than people remember.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid analysis

“If you ask me for a favorite, I can’t give you one. Any quality detail from a player can make a difference. If Liverpool play at home with the same intensity as against Everton, anything can happen, they can score goals and they can win. But the second game would remain, where Real Madrid, with quality and experience, could come back. For me there is no favourite.

“Madrid will try to take advantage of Vinicius’s speed behind Alexander-Arnold. We need to see if Ancelotti gives balance with Valverde or Ceballos. There are many conditioning factors due to injuries but, for me, the greatest danger for Madrid would be the counter, taking advantage of Vinicius’ speed.”

His time at Real Madrid

“I have very good memories of my time when I trained the first team. That stage was better than people think. Me and my assistants still think they didn’t let us win. And let me explain: when we left, we were still in the Champions League. The exit of the Cup was an administrative error, and in LaLiga we were two points behind Barcelona with one game less than Barça.

“In other words, Madrid then took advantage of a team that worked well with us and then in the end they won the Champions League and it worked. We lacked a center forward, who was not signed. In short, my stage there is much better than what people think at the work level, but logically it was not satisfactory.

“The signings of Casemiro, Kovacic and Lucas Vázquez were clearly very positive because they gave the team balance. Later, Madrid did not have a center forward and I asked for one. Well... they said that it was not necessary and when Benzema was not there, he was missed.

“The team was physically fine and we had the data to prove it. When you leave a team that is doing well... We still have the record of an 8-0 Champions League result against Malmo.... In other words, we did something right. We beat Rayo Vallecano 10-2. It wasn’t all that bad, but the elections were coming up and you couldn’t make many mistakes. In addition, Casillas left, Sergio Ramos wanted to leave, Cristiano Ronaldo was not happy... There were many previous problems that we assumed because we were there. In the end, the second rounds for Real Madrid and those for my teams, in general, tend to be good.”

How do Toni Kroos and Luka Modric fit in modern football?

“I believe in balance, which allows you to compete and win. If you are very offensive you can win, but normally the teams that win titles are the ones that fit the least and not because of defense, but because of pressing after loss and recovering high.

“So, the fact that Kross and Modric continue to play means that intelligence continues to have value, but you need to compensate it because football is getting faster, more physical.”

How would he deal with Vinicius?

“I would be honest, I would speak to him clearly and I would give him arguments to convince him of what I want. I had a Hazard at Chelsea who was one of the best but made a lot of mistakes. He had a type of game that made a difference and attracted a lot of attention from his rivals. So, you had to talk to him, try to channel him...”

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