Benzema’s explanation for Real Madrid improvement since Ronaldo exit after Man City brace

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Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, Karim Benzema has become Real Madrid’s undisputed talisman. The France international took his tally for the season to 41 goals with a magnificent brace against Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday night. And, according to the striker himself, he’s enjoyed taking on the extra responsibility for Los Blancos.

Real Madrid lost to City on Tuesday night but, because of Benzema’s brace and Vinicius Jr’s terrific solo goal, they’re still in with a shot of reaching the Champions League final.

Rightly, the France international is taking all the plaudits after delivering on the big stage once again.

Since Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus in the summer of 2018, the 34-year-old has been in outstanding form.

At the time of Ronaldo’s exit, Benzema had usually been forced to play second fiddle to the Manchester United star.

But he’s now become a leader, bagging 128 goals in the four years since.

And, speaking in January, the veteran elaborated on his improvement and revealed Ronaldo’s exit had forced him into taking on extra responsibility.

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“When he played for Real Madrid he scored between 50 and 60 goals a season,” he told Marca at the time.

“So you have to adapt to this reality. I had to move more on the pitch, give him space.

“When he left, what changed was that it was my turn to take over; to score goals and to provide assists to my other teammates.

“I’ve taken over in my own way and it’s going well.”

Also at the time, Benzema insisted he was different to Ronaldo.

“I don’t play like Cristiano Ronaldo and he doesn’t play like Karim Benzema,” added the veteran.

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“When Cristiano Ronaldo was at the club, I was more the one who created more goals and he the one who finished but now I have changed.”

Meanwhile, after his Panenka penalty against City, Benzema has opened up on why he chose to take the spot-kick in that manner.

“A defeat is never good because we are really excited about the Champions League,” he said.

“The most important thing is we never lay down our arms, we are all in this until the end.

“Now we have to go to the Bernabeu and we will need our fans like never before and we are going to do something magical, which is win.

“I always have it in my head that if you don’t take a penalty, you will never miss a penalty.

“That’s mental confidence and that’s all. I have a lot of confidence in myself… so I do it and it turns out well.”

But Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has called on his team to improve ahead of the second leg at the Etihad.

“I am a supporter of football of course,” he stated. “It was a fantastic game.

“As manager of Real Madrid I have to take consideration that we scored three goals, which is really important.

“We didn’t defend well. We can do better. We concede two goals early in the game and then we are able to react really well.

“We kept the game open until the end.

“Now we have a great dream to play the second game in the Bernabeu and we hope to have the chance to go to the final.

“The first 20 minutes were really difficult but slowly we were able to come back into the game to keep qualification open.

“We need this [some magic] as we are going to play against a really strong team.

“We competed today and we need to do that more in our stadium.”

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