Despite being rivals on the field, Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema and former Barcelona captain Lionel Messi have always shared a mutual respect for each other. The 34-year-old French forward has defended Messi in the past and was at it once again.
Ahead of Madrid’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain, Benzema was quipped about how does it feel to play against Messi of PSG. To which he simply said,
“I think that he’s an outstanding player and people in France are expecting more goals from him”, the Madrid captain told the press.
“He knows a lot about football and I’ve played against him many times when he was at Barcelona. When it comes to talking about Messi, the conversation has to revolve around football,” he added.
It’s certainly not the first time that Benzema has spoken soft about Messi. Back in January while speaking in an interview with French TV station Telefoot, the Madrid forward slammed Messi’s critics by saying every player needs some time to adapt to the new surroundings.
His reverence went to an extent that he said ‘those who criticize Messi know nothing about football’.
Judging by his standards, Messi has evidently struggled to adapt to new life in Ligue 1, scoring a mere two goals and seven assists in 14 outings. His return in the Champions League, however, is something to take note of, with the Argentina captain scoring five goals in as many appearances.
Meanwhile, Benzema also spoke about former Barcelona frontman Neymar, who is likely to make a comeback against Madrid. The 30-year-old Brazilian has been out of action since November 2021 but is in line to make it to the starting XI.
“He’s a top player,” said Benzema. “I don’t know whether he’s at 100%, but they’ll be stronger if he does play. The outcome of a game doesn’t depend on a single player, but Neymar, just like Messi, is a good and strong player.”