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Carlo Ancelotti plays down Karim Benzema injury concerns

Carlo Ancelotti plays down Karim Benzema injury concerns

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is confident that the injury Karim Benzema sustained in Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Celtic is not serious.

The France international unsurprisingly led the line at Celtic Park, with Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior in support of the frontman for the reigning holders’ Group F opener.

Real Madrid initially struggled to impose themselves on the game in the first half, and Ancelotti was forced into an early change after half an hour when Benzema pulled up injured.

Former Chelsea man Eden Hazard was drafted into the XI for the next hour, and he rounded off the scoring in a 3-0 success after Luka Modric and Vinicius had also netted in the second half.

The Spanish and European champions are short of out-and-out strikers after failing to sign Erling Braut Haaland and Kylian Mbappe this summer, with Mariano Diaz currently in reserve.

Karim Benzema celebrates scoring for Real Madrid on August 20, 2022© Reuters

Centre-back Eder Militao was also replaced by Antonio Rudiger at half time at Celtic Park, but Ancelotti has played down fears of any long-term layoffs for the duo.

“It seems not so serious, but we have to wait tomorrow,” Ancelotti told BT Sport. “Both of them will have a check, Benzema and Militao, it seems not so important.”

Ange Postecoglu‘s side gave Real Madrid a good run for their money in front of their own fans during the opening exchanges, and Ancelotti admitted that his side were not at the races early doors.

“First half we suffered a little bit with the intensity, but in the second half we had more control and played really well,” the 63-year-old added. “We were comfortable with the ball and dangerous on the counter-attack.

“We were not surprised [in the first half], we knew they could start really fast with a lot of intensity. We were lucky when they hit the post, we didn’t play so fast in the final third but second half much better.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on August 20, 2022© Reuters

“I said [at half time] we needed to improve the speed in the final third and with good combinations we scored three fantastic goals. When we opened the scoring it was easier for us to control the ball.

“We played with a lot of quality in midfield, [Toni] Kroos played a fantastic game. Second half there was no problem. This is a difficult stadium with a fantastic atmosphere, it was nice for us to win here.”

The holders have quickly surged into the top two of the Group F table, with Shakhtar Donetsk leading the way after their 4-1 thumping of Bundesliga giants RB Leipzig.

Real Madrid are next in action at home to Mallorca in Sunday’s La Liga battle before welcoming Leipzig to the Bernabeu in matchday two of the Champions League next Wednesday.

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