Real Madrid go seven points clear in La Liga


Karim Benzema applauded Real Madrid’s followers after they chanted “Karim, Ballon d’Or” as his aim in opposition to Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday despatched Madrid seven points clear on the high of La Liga.

Benzema’s twentieth aim in 24 video games this season proved the distinction in a 1-0 victory on the Santiago Bernabeu that places Madrid firmly in cost of the Spanish title race, even after solely 15 video games performed.

“We’re on a good run and I like the atmosphere right now in the team,” mentioned Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.

A run of seven consecutive wins in all competitions has helped pull Ancelotti’s group away from the chasing pack and Benzema, together with the explosive Vinicius Junior, has been instrumental.

Ancelotti insisted on Tuesday Benzema had not been “crying” about dropping out to Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or on Monday, with the Frenchman ending fourth in the ultimate vote.

But there was greater than a touch of insurrection in the air when the Madrid followers toasted his aim by chanting “Karim, Ballon d’Or” and the 33-year-old responded by applauding them again.

Ancelotti predicted Benzema could be much more motivated to win the award subsequent season and maybe his greatest hope could be to play a decisive function in Madrid successful both La Liga or the Champions League.

With Barcelona rebuilding beneath Xavi Hernandez and Atletico Madrid struggling to steadiness their normally reliable defence with a wealth of choices in assault, Real Madrid are definitely rising as clear favourites now in Spain.

They defeated Sevilla 2-1 final weekend and now face third-placed Real Sociedad and second-placed Atletico in their subsequent two video games, fixtures that might give them a formidable lead if the victories preserve coming.

Athletic, in the meantime, keep eighth, with out a win now in six.

“Winning seven games in a row isn’t luck,” mentioned Ancelotti. “This Real Madrid has character. When we don’t win with quality, we have other strengths we can use.”

Madrid rode their luck in opposition to Sevilla and have been stretched once more right here, with Athletic squandering a string of golden alternatives.

The first got here from a protracted ball excessive, which hit Eder Militao on the again and allowed Inaki Williams in, however he shot large.

Then David Alaba left a protracted punt downfield for Thibaut Courtois behind him however Williams was there once more, just for his first contact to let him down.

Raul Garcia had the perfect probability, with a free header from three yards out, however he nodded straight at Courtois and there was an air of inevitability about Madrid making Athletic pay.

Vinicius began it, with a driving run in off the left, exchanging with Luka Modric earlier than feeding Marco Asensio, whose curled shot got here again to Modric.

He fluffed the rebound however so badly that it fell properly into the trail of Benzema, who slotted in.

Athletic have been nonetheless the higher group in the second half and the house crowd grew more and more agitated.

Raul Garcia’s shot needed to be blocked by the sliding Lucas Vazquez and Courtois was required to disclaim Oihan Sancet. Mikel Vesga ought to have headed in late on however once more Militao was there.

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