Real battle to win with host of key men out

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez blamed injuries to important players for his side's lack of attacking sparkle, as they stuttered to a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint Germain at home in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Real clinched a place in the last 16 and boast a mean defence that has conceded only four goals in 14 games in all competitions. But the pressure is starting to grow at the Bernabeu, where there is a demand for thrilling football.

The Spanish side rode their luck against PSG, who dominated especially in the first half, and they scored through Nacho Fernandez from one of their few chances after 35 minutes.

"Our objective is always to go out and attack and it isn't to not concede but you also have to consider the quality of the opposition and you have to adapt your game," Benitez said after the win.

"If you look at the players who score most of the goals for us, then we have three of them who were not playing. We have qualified for the next round without a lot of important players."

Gareth Bale was injured while James Rodriguez was an unused substitute after returning to the squad following almost two months on the sidelines. The injured Karim Benzema was back in France, held by police in a blackmail probe.

Injuries in Real's defence are easing, with Sergio Ramos and Pepe back fit but they were dealt a blow with Marcelo limping off against the French champions.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc was left to reflect on a frustrating night, when his side went closest to scoring through Adrien Rabiot and Angel di Maria.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2015, with the headline 'Real battle to win with host of key men out'. Print Edition | Subscribe