Benzema declares title race is on after Madrid make gains on Atletico

By Sports Desk February 09, 2021

Karim Benzema insists "there is a long way to go" in the LaLiga title race after Real Madrid made up ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benzema opened the scoring on the hour-mark and Ferland Mendy doubled the lead as Zinedine Zidane’s side claimed a 2-0 victory against Getafe on Tuesday.

Atleti were held to a 2-2 home draw by Celta Vigo on Monday as Los Blancos closed the gap to five points at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, although Diego Simeone’s team still have two games in hand.

But that does not matter to Benzema, who headed in Vinicius Junior's cross to net his 16th goal of the season in all competitions, and the France international striker believes Madrid have Atleti in their sights.

"It was a good goal, a good centre from Vini and the ball goes in. I think we are back," Benzema told Movistar.

"It is always very difficult against Getafe. We will continue like this. There is a long way to go until the end.

"Each game is a final and we have to try to win every one. We are confident.

"There is always a lot of noise around Madrid because this is the best club in the world."

Next up for Madrid is a meeting with Valencia on Sunday, while table-toppers Atletico travel to face Granada on Saturday.

Third-placed Barcelona, who are three points behind Madrid and eight points off the top, host Deportivo Alaves on Saturday following their Copa Del Rey semi-final first leg against Sevilla on Wednesday.

Related items

  • Suarez 'cannot understand' congested schedule Suarez 'cannot understand' congested schedule

    Uruguay striker Luis Suarez "cannot understand" why players are being forced to play so many fixtures in such a congested period.

    South American nations are playing two World Cup qualifiers over the coming days, after FIFA inserted an extra international break into the calendar.

    European countries are not in action, but CONMEBOL are attempting to catch up on fixtures missed due to the coronavirus pandemic and last year's Copa America.

    Uruguay are one of five teams separated by just two points in the qualification standings, but have lost their past four games by an aggregate of 11-1.

    They travel to Paraguay on Thursday, before hosting Venezuela on February 1. However, that second game comes just two days before a crucial Copa del Rey tie for Real Madrid, and Federico Valverde is set to travel back to Spain for that match.

    Three other players, Getafe trio Mathias Olivera, Damian Suarez and Mauro Arambarri, could well have to be involved in a LaLiga match on February 4, while Suarez's Atletico Madrid are in action against his former club Barcelona on February 6.

    It is a situation that leaves Suarez frustrated.

    "I have to speak about the physical part of being a human being as well as a sportsman," he told reporters.

    "We cannot understand how it is that we will compete in a World Cup qualifier next Tuesday and that Pajarito [Valverde] in this case, will have to compete in a Copa del Rey match.

    "That my colleagues from Getafe, Mauro, Damian and Mati, will have to play that Friday in a LaLiga match. The schedule is quite tight, but we have to adapt to it.

    "We are professionals and will do our job on the pitch because that is demanded from us, but sometimes the players are not in other people's thoughts.

    "It happened before when we played three qualifiers in 10 days, with long trips of more than 12-15 hours, and obviously fatigue then has an influence."

    Suarez, however, insists the squad's full focus is on arresting their dismal form and pushing on to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar this year.

    He said: "There are players who go through different stages of both winning and losing streaks. But when you come into the national team, the games that you have been playing suddenly do not matter.

    "What matters is the hunger to compete, the wish to live and feel what I feel with this shirt on and to keep demonstrating that I am prevailing and that I want to keep competing and have the burning ambition to make it to the World Cup.

    "I've been lucky enough to have played in three World Cups already and now, at 35 years old, I want to continue with that same ambition and I wish to keep playing World Cups and to have the chance to play at my fourth World Cup. Because of that, I am here."

  • Infantino says Africa comments 'were taken out of context' Infantino says Africa comments 'were taken out of context'

    FIFA president Gianni Infantino said  his comments suggesting biennial World Cups could convince African people not to risk "death" by crossing the Mediterranean Sea were "taken out of context".

    Infantino was addressing the European Council on Wednesday, speaking about a range of topics including football agents, Qatar 2022 and FIFA's proposals for World Cup finals every two years.

    He concluded his speech by talking about the latter, outlining how FIFA's reasoning behind the controversial idea – which is being pushed by Arsene Wenger – comes down to a desire to let more people around the world enjoy the best players for "the future of football".

    Infantino said: "We see that football is going to a direction where the few have everything and the vast majority have nothing. I understand.

    "In Europe, the World Cup happens twice per week because the best players are playing in Europe. In Europe there's no need for additional events, but if we think about the rest of the world, and even in Europe, the vast majority of Europe that doesn't see the best players, that doesn't participate in the top competitions."

    But, as he went on to explain ethical dilemmas currently troubling the sport, Infantino's address took a curious turn, suggesting the proposed World Cup changes – and greater inclusion in global football – could make refugees think twice about fleeing Africa for Europe.

    He added: "We have to think about what football brings, which goes beyond the sport, because football is about what I was saying at the beginning – it's about opportunities, about hope, about national teams, the country, heart, the joy and emotion. You cannot say to the rest of the world, 'give us your money and if you happen to have a good player, give us the player as well, but you just watch on TV'. We need to include them. We need to find ways to include the entire world, to give hope to Africans so they don't have to cross the Mediterranean in order to, maybe, find a better life but more probably death in the sea.

    "We need to give opportunities and we need to give dignity, not by giving charity but by allowing the rest of the world to participate. Maybe a World Cup every two years isn't the answer, [but] we discuss it, debate it."

    Several hours later, the Swiss – via a statement released on FIFA's Twitter account – took the opportunity to clarify his comments.

    The statement read: "Given that certain remarks made by me before the Council of Europe earlier today appear to have been misinterpreted and taken out of context, I wish to clarify that, in my speech, my more general message was that everyone in a decision-making position has a responsibility to help improve the situation of people around the world.

    "If there are more opportunities available, including in Africa, but certainly not limited to that continent, this should allow people to take these opportunities in their own countries.

    "This was a general comment, which was not directly related to the possibility of playing a FIFA World Cup every two years."

  • Wolves confirm Hwang Hee-chan to join the club permanently Wolves confirm Hwang Hee-chan to join the club permanently

    South Korea international Hwang Hee-chan will join Wolves permanently at the end of the season, the Premier League club has confirmed.

    Hwang initially joined on a season-long loan from Bundesliga side RB Leipzig and agreed personal terms on a deal before arriving in England.

    Wolves have now activated a clause to make the move permanent from July for a fee reportedly in the region of £12million.

    The deal will run to 2026 and was confirmed by the club's website on the player's 26th birthday.

    The former Salzburg forward made an impactful start at Wolves, scoring four goals in his first six Premier League games, including his first strike just 20 minutes into his debut after coming off the bench in the 2-0 win at Watford in September.

    He has failed to find the net since scoring the opener in the 1-1 draw at Leeds United in October, however, and has not played since sustaining a hamstring injury in the 1-0 win at Brighton last month.

     

    Hwang first came to prominence at Salzburg during the 2019-20 season, playing in an attack that included Erling Haaland, Takumi Minamino and Patson Daka, before signing for RB Leipzig for around €9m in 2020.

    However, he only managed three goals and four assists in 29 appearances across all competitions for Die Roten Bullen – albeit only five of those were starts.

    Wolves technical director, Scott Sellars, was delighted to confirm the news and told the club's website: "He's had a really positive affect on not only the team, but also the whole football club, and he's been a fantastic addition to Wolves.

    "We could see straight from our first meeting with him that Hee-chan is such a focused and determined young man who wants to be successful in his football career.

    "He's not had the experiences he would have liked at Leipzig and he wanted a change, and he's grabbed his opportunity here in the Premier League with both hands. He's shown a lot of determination, a lot of focus and certainly a lot of professionalism every day, and he's got his rewards in terms of his performances and his goals."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.