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UEFA Champions League: Karim Benzema returns as Real Madrid eyes Champions League knockout stage

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UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid will focus on securing a place in the Champions League knockout stage with a win against Shakhtar…

UEFA Champions LeagueReal Madrid will focus on securing a place in the Champions League knockout stage with a win against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw on Tuesday and striker Karim Benzema will be back in the team to help, coach Carlo Ancelotti said. For more Football & Premier League news, follow Insidesport.in

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Real Madrid top Group F with a maximum of nine points from three matches and a win against second-placed Shakhtar – on five points – will take them into the knockout stages. “Qualifying from the group stage is the first goal of the season because it comes very early, very quickly and the sooner we do it the better” Ancelotti told a press conference on Monday.

Obviously, mentally this can give you more energy for (the Spanish league). But we must also remember that Real Madrid in the Champions League cannot think about not playing a serious game.”

The Italian coach confirmed there would be changes to his squad ahead of ‘El Clasico’ against rivals Barcelona on Sunday. While Ancelotti said he could rest striker Vinicius Jr., who scored in their 2-1 win over Shakhtar in Madrid and has played a lot recently, Benzema returns after being rested in the 1-0 win at Getafe Saturday in LaLiga.

“Karim is fine. Obviously he will start the game tomorrow. He will play because he is rested – like (Toni) Kroos, (Ferland) Mendy, they are fresh to play.” Ancelotti said. Frenchman Benzema, who suffered two thigh injuries at the beginning of September, played the full 90 minutes against Osasuna and Shakhtar, but had muscle fatigue, so he did not play at Getafe

COURTOIS IS MISSING

In Warsaw, where Shakhtar host their Champions League games due to the war in Ukraine, Real will still be without first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, so Ukraine’s Andriy Lunin will continue to deputize. However, the Belgian is set to return to training on Thursday and should be ready to face Barca, Ancelotti said.

(Lunin) is young, has a lot of quality, these games will help him gather experience and knowledge – which is the only thing he lacks at the moment, because his quality in goal is the quality of a great goalkeeper“, Ancelotti added. Asked how the 23-year-old Lunin was coping with news from Ukraine about the war, which Russia calls a ‘special military operation’, the Real coach said both himself and the team were there to support him.

“Andriy is quite shy, he is not a person who talks too much. It is normal that everything that happens affects him, as it affects everyone,” said Ancelotti. “We are in solidarity with them (Shakhtar) and we have great respect for them,” he added. “Playing with this kind of difficulty means a lot to them, to give a good image of a Ukrainian team that is suffering like the entire Ukrainian population“.

UEFA Champions League: Karim Benzema returns as Real Madrid eyes Champions League knockout stage

For more Football & Premier League news, follow Insidesport.in

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