Dearth of goals not an issue for confident Benitez

Cristiano Ronaldo (right) channels his inner prankster as Real Madrid team-mate Marcelo speaks to a journalist after their side's 2-0 victory over Galatasaray in Madrid on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) channels his inner prankster as Real Madrid team-mate Marcelo speaks to a journalist after their side's 2-0 victory over Galatasaray in Madrid on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez is not worried about his side's relative goal drought in their final warm-up football matches before they begin their Primera Liga campaign on Sunday with a trip to promoted Sporting Gijon.

Real edged out Turkey's Galatasaray 2-1 in Tuesday's Santiago Bernabeu trophy invitational match, having drawn 0-0 with Norwegian club Valerenga and lost 0-1 to Bayern Munich in their previous two friendlies.

Benitez, who took over from Carlo Ancelotti at the end of a 2014-15 season devoid of major trophies, told a news conference he was sure the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Jese would soon be scoring freely.

"It does not concern me," said Benitez, who was making his debut at Real's Bernabeu stadium, when asked about his team's recent lack of goals. "We had 22 shots and I am convinced that will bring us goals.

"I am more concerned about closing down the opponent when they try to bring the ball out of defence and preventing counter -attacks.

"I am very pleased and confident. Beyond that, we'll try to score against Sporting to put an end to this debate."

Bale was given a free role in the middle of the attack.

"He (Bale) creates spaces and looks to make runs behind the defence. If you look at the way he moves, you will see how he takes the pressure off," said Benitez.

The main domestic challenge for Real and Benitez this term will be preventing champions and great rivals Barcelona winning a sixth La Liga title in eight years.

Real are also chasing a record-extending 11th European crown after Ancelotti guided them to a long-awaited 10th in his first term in 2013-14.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Dearth of goals not an issue for confident Benitez'. Print Edition | Subscribe