Karim Benzema has spoken out about Lionel Messi’s time in Paris, claiming that the former Barcelona captain is still adapting to a new league.
The Real Madrid striker came head to head with Messi in a number of El Clasicos in which both Madrid and Barcelona showed their superiority. After a while spent playing second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema finally took up the mantle and Madrid and had some impressive Pichichi battles with the Argentine.
However, Benzema has always maintained and expressed respect for his El Clasico rival and continues to respect him, even as he now plies his trade in Benzema’s home country of France.
The Los Blancos striker was asked about Messi’s form with Paris Saint-Germain in an interview with Telefoot and he defended his former rival by saying that his critics “do not understand anything about football”.
“How is Messi not going to succeed?” Benzema said to Telefoot when asked about Messi’s underwhelming form. “It’s just a time of adaptation, because he hasn’t scored many goals.
“But look what he does on the pitch. In any case, you can’t criticise a player like that, someone who criticises Messi doesn’t understand anything about football.”
Messi has made 17 appearances across all competitions for PSG to date, scoring six goals and providing five assists. Five of his goals were in the UEFA Champions League, which shows that his potency in front of attack is still there. However his lone goal in the league has called his ability to adapt to a different league to question.
Injuries and COVID-19 have also affected the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner but with Messi being Messi, nothing can be categorically said about his performances until the season is over.
Benzema assures fans ahead of PSG-Madrid Champions League clash
Madrid will battle PSG in the Champions League round of 16 and Benzema will be facing Messi again as well as his strike partner in the French national team, Kylian Mbappe.
Both strikers have struck up a friendship which Benzema alluded to in his interview with Telefoot, where he also claimed that Madrid is prepared for Mbappe’s, Messi’s and Neymar’s PSG.
“Facing Mbappe? It’s going to be special,” he said. “We’re good friends. Let’s see what happens
“He wants to win and so do I.
“We’d like to have been drawn against someone else, but we’re prepared,” he assured fans.
Benzema also spoke about coming fourth in the Ballon d’Or awards, in which Messi picked up his seventh prize.
“Like I’ve said since I was a child: being fourth, third, second or 30th are all the same,” Benzema said about his Ballon d’Or ranking. “What matters is winning.
“Later, they told me that I hadn’t won enough trophies, but I couldn’t do any more.
“The Ballon d’Or for me is for someone who scores, assists, is there for the difficult moments.
“It’s a lot of things, not just winning trophies, but I’m not the one who gives out the trophy.”