Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has revealed what his side must do to stop Karim Benzema in their Champions League clash against Real Madrid. The Cityzens take on Los Blancos at the Etihad on 26 April in the first leg of the semi-final.
The 34-year-old has had one of his best seasons to date, having scored a remarkable 39 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions.
Twelve of those have come in nine Champions League games. Benzema is the second leading goalscorer in the competition this season behind Robert Lewandowski (13).
Guardiola has commented on the form of the Frenchman, detailing what his City side need to do to stop the striker (via MEN):
“The two games against Sporting, first game against Atletico we played to not concede. The second leg we couldn’t have conceded, they were better. We have to defend well, Benzema scores lot of goals in his career, fantastic player, we defend well, we will have to defend and create chances to score.”
🎙| Pep Guardiola: "We have to defend well. Benzema scores lot of goals in his career, fantastic player, we have to defend well, we will have to defend and create chances to score." @_joebray
— Madrid Xtra (@MadridXtra) April 25, 2022
Indeed, Guardiola’s men were resolute in defense in their second-leg quarter-final against Atletico Madrid.
The La Liga side put immense pressure on them throughout the second-half in search of a vital equalizer after losing 1-0 in the first leg. Manchester City, however, stood firm in denying their opponents.
Benzema, however, poses another threat to that of Atleti’s forwards, being La Liga’s top goalscorer this season on 25 goals in 29 matches.
He has scored two hat-tricks in the last two rounds of Real Madrid’s Champions League campaign, knocking out Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
One Manchester City that is fearful of the talismanic forward is Rodri. The Spanish midfielder has commented on the threat Benzema poses saying (via MEN):
“He is in the best moment of his career. He understands every part of the game and is scoring goals, important goals. I would say f***ing hell, this guy is amazing in every game and he not only scores goals but makes his team feel comfortable with the ball and as [Carlo] Ancelotti says he is the modern striker in football so we have to be aware of him and all of Real Madrid.”
KARIM BENZEMA STOP THAT! 🎯
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2022
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema’s track record against Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2013 just as Karim Benzema was truly arriving in La Liga with Real Madrid.
The Frenchman managed four goals against Guardiola’s Barca in El Clasico during the duo’s coinciding time with the Spanish rivals.
While Guardiola was at Bayern Munich, the two faced off in the 2014 Champions League with Benzema scoring in a 1-0 first-leg victory for Los Blancos.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 24, 2022
was in 2020 when the two sides clashed in the R16 of the Champions League. Benzema scored in a 2-1 defeat for Los Blancos as Guardiola got the better of the Frenchman’s Madrid side.
The two are set to lock horns yet again, with both at the peak of their powers in their respective roles.