On the eve of the crucial match against PSG, Karim Benzema took questions from the press gathered inside the Parc des Princes media area. The player who is expected to feature against his French counterparts was full of energy and optimistic about the most important match of the season. However the French forward was not sure about starting the game in Paris.
“It is difficult to spend time on the bench. I’ve been working at home and at Valdebebas morning, noon, and night to be ready for this one. I’m psychologically prepared, but now it’s time to go see how I feel on the pitch. I’m here to support my team; it’s a big game, and if I play, I’ll give it everything I’ve got. I’ll always go above and beyond for my team, but I won’t go so far as to injure myself since that would be bad news for the squad.
“I’ve put a lot of hours of work in and I’m feeling far better. We’ve got a training session now and I’ll see how I’m feeling and if I’ll be able to play. I’ve come a long way with my recovery and I’ll have to see how I’m feeling out on the pitch and we’ll make a decision after training. It’s a special game because it’s the Champions League. I feel comfortable when I’m in France with the national team and I’m here today representing my club. People treat me well and I have to go out and perform on the pitch, which is what people want to see from me”.
Benzema had suffered a hamstring injury against Elche and has missed the last three Real Madrid games in which the La Liga leaders dropped points in two of the matches.
Responding to my question whether he thinks the busy schedule has taken the toll on Real who dropped points from a strong position on the table Benzema said:
“It’s tough for us to play against teams that sit back. When we don’t get that bit of luck to score in the opening 15 minutes we become nervous and the goals don’t come. We’ve dropped points, but we’re still top of the league and are in good shape to stay there”.
The striker also attended a range of questions including his views on Messi, Mbappe and the whole PSG squad.
On Messi his reply was: “I think he’s an excellent player, and many in France are expecting him to score more goals.” He knows a lot about football, and I used to play against him a lot when he was at Barcelona. When discussing Messi, the conversation must revolve around football.”
On playing against compatriot Mbappe, Benzema said: “It’s a huge game, and it’s more special to be up against him because we play for the national team together.” The most important thing is that we go out and play the game and win.”
“I can only hope he has a good game and performs as well as he is capable of.” He’s young, but he’s a fantastic player.”
The first leg of the round of last-16 will take place in Paris tonight and the second leg will follow on 10th March. You can visit this space to my latest updates about the match from Paris.