Benitez hits back at claims of ‘defensive’ Madrid


Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez hit back at suggestions that he has turned the Spanish giants into an overly defensive side ahead of their Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

The two teams are both on course to qualify for the last 16 as they prepare to meet at the Parc des Princes having each won their opening two games in Group A, but first place in the section is at stake.

The match is also a clash of styles, with PSG’s possession-based approach in stark contrast to Madrid’s penchant for lightning fast counter-attacks.

Paris coach Laurent Blanc had earlier evoked that contrast when he said that Real “since the start of the season, seem quite defensive to me, albeit they take their chances.”

He added: “I prefer to have the ball and apparently Real are happy to defend deep and hit teams on the break, because they go at 3,000 kilometres an hour.”

But that clearly irked Benitez, under whom Madrid have not lost in 10 games this season and have scored 24 goals, conceding only two.

“Our team is a team that attacks. The statistics say so and our idea is to win matches by scoring goals,” said the 55-year-old, a Champions League winner with Liverpool a decade ago.

“At Liverpool, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid, my teams have always scored goals. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

“Real Madrid is the team that scores the most goals, shoots the most, I have nothing else to add. When we need to attack we do so.”

That Madrid attack will be deprived of Gareth Bale and France striker Karim Benzema, who are injured along with Dani Carvajal and Pepe, but Benitez is not too worried about their goal-scoring threat as long as Cristiano Ronaldo is available.

“We have the best goal-scorer in the history of the club, one of the best in Europe and without doubt one of the best in history. Up there with Pele for example,” said Benitez, who also welcomes back Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric.

The hosts, meanwhile, will be without David Luiz, as Blanc confirmed he would not take take a risk on the Brazilian defender, who has been struggling with a knee injury suffered on international duty recently.

“It is an important match, extraordinary, because they are a European giant, but it will not be a decisive match,” said Blanc.

“These games will come later. If I had a player in the same condition as David Luiz for a knockout game I would take the risk. Not here.

“Madrid have lots of injuries, but we can compare ourselves to them in terms of our squad. Only in terms of that. Real are a European giant. We are not. But we can win. We have the quality, the motivation.”