Football: Benzema hits out at 'unfair' criticism over poor work ethic

France striker Karim Benzema hit out at those who questioned his work ethic as he tried to play down Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelloti's suggestion that he shies away from hard work. -- PHOTO: AFP
France striker Karim Benzema hit out at those who questioned his work ethic as he tried to play down Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelloti's suggestion that he shies away from hard work. -- PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - France striker Karim Benzema hit out at those who questioned his work ethic as he tried to play down Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelloti's suggestion that he shies away from hard work.

The 25-year-old has been under pressure to prove his worth as a team player after he was booed off the pitch during last month's Spanish La Liga victory over Athletic Bilbao.

Benzema also went on the defence when he was quizzed about his attitude when playing with France as he has not scored an international goal for 16 months.

"What attitude?" he snapped on Wednesday when asked by reporters at France training facility in Clairefontaine, near Paris, about the criticism he has faced.

"Carlo Ancelotti did not say (that I was not working enough). He said that me and Angel di Maria did not have the same share of defensive work."

After the Bilbao game, Ancelotti suggested Benzema could take a few pointers from the energetic and tenacious di Maria, who was applauded by the fans.

"One thing was very clear," Ancelotti said at the time. "Benzema was whistled a bit, while di Maria was applauded by whole stadium. The fans look closely at the players. It's a very clear sign for everyone that hard work is applauded."

On Wednesday Benzema stressed that the criticism had nothing to do with the way he behaves.

"I'm a frontman. Of course I'm the first defender but I won't do the job of a full-back or a midfield," he said. "It's not a question of attitude. You talk about attitude when a player does not want to play football. But I walk on to the pitch, I want to play football.

"For example, when I play for France... I run almost 10km per game. It's unfair because I do run."