Ancelotti: Benzema the complete player

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Carlo Ancelotti described Karim Benzema as the "complete player" after he inspired a 4-1 victory at Alaves in Real Madrid's first game of the LaLiga season.

Benzema scored twice either side of a volley from Nacho, before Vinícius Junior headed in the last of four second-half goals for Madrid in their first competitive game since Ancelotti returned to the club.

Joselu had made it 3-1 from the penalty spot just after Benzema's second goal, but Los Blancos made an impressive start to their bid to regain the title.

Benzema has scored 17 LaLiga goals this year, a tally only bettered by Lionel Messi (23), and he appeared to thrive on wearing the captain's armband with Sergio Ramos having joined Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid boss Ancelotti feels the France striker has matured into a magnificent all-rounder player.

He said: "Benzema is the completion of the team, reading the situations of the match very well. He is a player I think is not enough to call a forward.

"He is a very complete player. Now he is more complete than five years ago."

Gareth Bale started his first game in the Spanish top flight since June 2020 after a loan spell with Tottenham last season, while Eden Hazard caused Alaves problems after he was also named in the side.

Bale scored in the 2014 Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid during Ancelotti's first spell at Madrid, but fell out of favour under Zinedine Zidane and there appeared to be no way back for him after he famously held up a 'Wales, golf, Madrid' flag.

Ancelotti is unsure whether the Wales captain has more desire to play for the club now, but says the forward has plenty to offer.

"I do not know if he is more committed than other years, because I was not there," he said. "Bale is going to improve because his condition is not optimal yet, like everyone else's. Everyone can improve."

Madrid have not been beaten in their opening game of a LaLiga campaign since 2008, winning nine and drawing four of their first games since then.

Related items

  • Lukaku's profligacy frustrates Inter coach Inzaghi Lukaku's profligacy frustrates Inter coach Inzaghi

    Simone Inzaghi did not hide his frustration at Romelu Lukaku's struggles in front of goal after Inter lost 1-0 to Fiorentina on Saturday.

    Inter's losing streak in Serie A was extended to their worst in six years as Giacomo Bonaventura's second-half header proved decisive at San Siro.

    The Nerazzurri have now lost three straight top flight matches, with Bonaventura's winner coming shortly after a woeful miss from Lukaku.

    Having rediscovered his goalscoring touch while on international duty with Belgium, Lukaku was unable to transfer that form across to his club side as he failed to hit the target from close range with the goal gaping.

    No Inter player had more shots than his three, with Lukaku not managing to get any of them on target, despite accumulating 1.2 expected goals.

    While not pinning the blame entirely on Lukaku – who is reported to have confronted Inzaghi about a lack of opportunities while he has been fit this season – Inter's coach was quick to point out the importance of those misses.

    Speaking to DAZN, Inzaghi said: "If he had scored those chances, Lukaku's performance would be judged in a very different way.

    "His role is to create the opportunities, make the movements that the team needs.

    "He wasn't the only one who had chances today, so I wouldn't focus only on Romelu."

    Inzaghi also stressed he is ultimately responsible for turning Inter's fortunes around. 

    "There is great disappointment, we lost two consecutive home matches," he said. "We need to work more, starting with me.

    "At the moment, we need to be more determined, because we had so many chances to score and we should have done.

    "I cannot ask for more in terms of effort, as the players did everything I asked of them."

    Inzaghi is not wrong. While Fiorentina had more shots (19 to 16) and got the same number of attempts on target (three each), Inter finished with a 2.8 xG compared to the visitors' 1.2, suggesting the quality of opportunities that went their way was far greater.

    Lukaku's glaring miss came from by far the best opportunity of the match, with Opta's model estimating the chance would be converted 92 per cent of the time (0.92 xG).

    The 29-year-old's future is uncertain. He is on loan at Inter, but due to return to parent club Chelsea at the end of the season.

    Before the match, Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta told DAZN: "[Lukaku's] love for the Inter jersey is 10 out of 10, we'll evaluate the prospects with Chelsea."

  • Kvitova triumphs in Miami Open to dash Rybakina's Sunshine Double hopes Kvitova triumphs in Miami Open to dash Rybakina's Sunshine Double hopes

    Elena Rybakina's superb run in the United States was ended by Petra Kvitova, who won 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 to clinch the Miami Open title.

    Two-time grand slam champion Kvitova, 33, became the second-oldest Miami champion, denying young gun Rybakina a Sunshine Double in the process.

    Rybakina, fresh from her triumph at the Indian Wells Open, has been in stunning form but could not find her groove on Saturday.

    After clinching the first set following a marathon tie-break, Kvitova took momentum into the second, cruising into a 5-2 lead before sealing the win with a break – Rybakina sending a forehand long.

    Kvitova equalled Simona Halep as the players with the third-most WTA 1000 titles (nine), with only Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10) having won more since 2009.

    "It feels unbelievable. I'm 33, and it's my 30th title, so I'm very happy," Kvitova told Amazon Prime Sport.

    "I didn't think, that was the key. Elena didn't lose a tie-break [this season]. I thought, well, she has to lose at some time. I had to be a bit more aggressive, it was a bit of a struggle. I was a bit nervous, yes.

    "I would have laughed [if someone told me I was going to win] but it feels great for sure. Nobody expected this, not me, not my team. I'm happy I'm injury free and, oh my God, I made it."

    Kvitova is the second woman to win the singles title in Miami after turning 33, following Serena Williams in 2015.

    Indeed, only Serena Williams (68), Justine Henin (42), Venus Williams (40), Kim Clijsters (40) and Maria Sharapova (36) have more WTA singles title to their name in the 21st century than the Czech.

    Rybakina, meanwhile, will lament the chance of a Sunshine Double going begging.

    The 23-year-old is the fourth player to fail to win the Sunshine Double in Miami's final after Serena Williams (1999), Lindsay Davenport (2000) and Sharapova (2006 and 2013).

    "I want to congratulate Petra for a great two weeks here in Miami, and good luck for the rest of the year," said Rybakina. "Thank you to my team, we'll keep going."

  • Elche 0-4 Barcelona: Lewandowski double helps LaLiga leaders thrash rock-bottom hosts Elche 0-4 Barcelona: Lewandowski double helps LaLiga leaders thrash rock-bottom hosts

    Robert Lewandowski's latest Barcelona double helped take them another step closer to the LaLiga title with a 4-0 win over rock-bottom Elche on Saturday.

    The Poland international's goals either side of an Ansu Fati finish helped the Blaugrana cruise to a comfortable victory at Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero.

    Ferran Torres added a fourth as Xavi's visitors moved 15 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid in the table to further underline their domestic dominance this season.

    For Sebastian Beccacece, Elche's fourth different boss of the season, it was a chastening reminder of the task at hand.

    Barca pressed hard for an opener from the start and were duly rewarded 20 minutes in when Lewandowski turned in a Ronald Araujo header from Jordi Alba's free-kick.

    But Lewandowski missed a golden opportunity to double the visitors' lead before the break with a flying header, as did Jules Kounde when he saw Edgar Badia save his shot.

    The Blaugrana were more ruthless in the second half, though.

    Fati capped off a fluent breakaway move with a cool, low finish to put Barca two up in the 56th minute

    Lewandowski was then on hand 10 minutes later, latching onto a Gavi throughball and dispatching a neat finish, before Torres brought down the forward's looping pass outside the box for a fine strike of his own.

    That added a last touch of gloss to a dominant performance that edges Barca closer to silverware.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.