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Tuchel as Blues boss hails Madrid star Benzema

UEFA Championship

Tuchel as Blues boss hails Madrid star Benzema

Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel is anticipating a “special” experience for Chelsea ahead of their tie against Real Madrid, and the Blues rates Karim Benzema as one of the best players in the world.

“It’s hard to keep that record,” he said of Madrid’s recent failure to reach the Champions League final, which they last did in 2018 when Gareth Bale inspired them to victory over Liverpool.

“They won it three times, this competition [in a row], they did it with a very similar squad over a long period which is impressive, outstanding.

“I think it’s normal that cycles like this change at some point, in terms of winning streaks, reaching the final, which is what happened to them. We should be aware that teams with this type of flair, experience and quality can produce special moments and nights and occasions.

“For us, it’s also a pretty special occasion – to play against Real Madrid in a quarter-final – and so that’s why we feel pretty excited, and we don’t lose too much sleep to think about where they are in Europe.

“We want to prove a point, prove it to ourselves. That’s the target. The occasion is special, and the opponent is special, and that’s why we are very excited about it.”

Asked whether last season’s tie has any bearing on this month’s matches, Tuchel replied:

“I think it has nothing to do with last season’s game. Honestly. I did not look at it in the preparation.”

This season, the 34-year-old has scored eight goals in the Champions League, which is already his most in a single campaign. If he scores in this game, he will set a new season-best for goals by a Frenchman in the competition.

Tuchel said of Benzema:

“I said maybe two years ago he was one of the most underrated players in world football.

“I think maybe not anymore, which he deserves because he plays for so many years as a number nine for Madrid, speaks for itself, and what he did in the last stage for them, how he carried the responsibility and what an essential part he plays for them as a captain now, is imposing.

“Certainly a standout personality, but again right now, in this very moment, very unfair to Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, all the guys who have carried this team so successfully almost a decade now.”

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