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Raul talks Benzema, Lewandowski, Barcelona, El Clasico, managerial future

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Ahead of the first El Clasico of the 2022/23 season, Real Madrid legend and Castilla manager Raul Gonzalez has heaped praise on Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski.

Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns against each other later this week at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the top spot in the La Liga table on the line.

The game will also see two of the most prolific strikers in Europe come face to face as Real Madrid captain Benzema locks horns with Barcelona ace Lewandowski.

While Benzema won the Pichichi Award for most goals scored in La Liga last season, Lewandowski has emerged as the early favourite for the trophy in the ongoing campaign.

And ahead of their meeting on Sunday, Raul has stated that the two are the best strikers in the game currently, along with Manchester City superstar and Real Madrid target Erling Haaland.

“They are possibly the best strikers, along with Haaland. They are the ones who have the most scoring ability and contribute the most to their teams,” Raul said (h/t SPORT).

Raul further hailed Lewandowski, claiming that he was a great signing for La Liga as a whole. However, he added that he hopes Benzema comes out on top in the battle between the two on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

“Lewandowski is a great signing for La Liga, he is showing his quality. But I hope that the battle of scorers on Sunday will be won by Benzema,” he added.

Talking about the forms of both teams heading into the Clasico, Raul said that Barcelona’s injuries were a cause for concern in defence, although he insisted that they were doing a good job with the players they have.

As for the importance of the game, he said: “I see it as a very exciting game, as always . They both arrive with the same points. Too early, because it’s in October. Whoever wins will be able to come out stronger mentally.

“It will be a very demanding game and Real Madrid, playing at home and being with their people, they could be the favourites,” Raul said.

“All the players are good, they are international. I think they have top squads with high-quality players. We are all looking forward to Sunday, but first there is the Champions League , which are two important games that they have before,” he added.

On his favourite El Clasico memory, Raul said: “I have been lucky enough to play many and score goals. Possibly I would keep the first of my career, with Valdano in 94. We won 5-0 after months before It was the other way around.

“On a personal level, I’ve had good performances , also average or bad. They are always special games that a player is always looking forward to.”

Talking about the iconic image of the silencing gesture he made to the Camp Nou crowd after scoring, Raul said: “These are things that happened at that time. Many Madridistas are very happy with that image. I’m happy but within codes of respect that have always been there.”

Opening up on his relationship with Barcelona and their players in the past, the Castilla manager stated:

“The relationship I have always had with Barcelona players and with the club has been very good. They are part of what football is, of what that moment of tension is and of wanting to do things well. It is an image that will remain for history.”

On his desire to coach Real Madrid in a fixture like El Clasico, he added: “I would like to but now I am very happy where I am, working with my boys.

“I am happy and I am going to enjoy it as a fan, with the desire that we get those three points that will not define anything but will give more confidence and morale to the winner.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid to start pre-season today with only seven first-team members

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Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

Today, according to a report from MARCA, only seven first-team players from Real Madrid’s first team will be returning to training at Valdebebas.

These players are Thibaut Courtois, Andriy Lunin, Lucas Vazquez, Jesus Vallejo, Fran Garcia, Dani Ceballos, and Brahim Diaz.

Real Madrid and their manager, Carlo Ancelotti, are gearing up for what could be their most demanding season ever. 

With seven major titles on the line, including the European Super Cup, La Liga, the Champions League, the Intercontinental Cup, the Spanish Super Cup, the Copa del Rey, and the Club World Cup, they are set to play a staggering 68 games across all competitions over the next 11 months.

However, before diving into these intense competitions, the team will embark on a pre-season tour in the United States, where they will play three friendly matches against Milan on July 31, Barcelona on August 4, and Chelsea on August 7.

Limited firearms in the arsenal

Currently, however, only a few players have returned to training, while the rest are still enjoying their vacations following their extended participation in the European Championship and Copa America.

For those who are at the club, the challenge begins today at Real Madrid City, starting with medical tests in the morning and the first training session in the afternoon. 

Carlo Ancelotti will have only seven first-team members in the training today. (Photo by THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Ancelotti will initially have a limited squad due to the absence of international players, who will join the team gradually after their holidays. 

For now, the seven players who have returned will train alongside Castilla players, who are also starting their training today to help fill out the first team sessions. 

Need for new signings

Ancelotti’s current squad consists of 22 players, including two goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders, and five forwards. 

This season will see significant changes, with the departure of legends like Toni Kroos and Nacho, as well as Joselu, one of the heroes from their last Champions League campaign.

On the positive side, the squad will be boosted by the arrival of superstar Kylian Mbappe and promising young talent Endrick. Kepa Arrizabalaga is also absent, but his return is still possible, depending on the situation with Lunin, whose future with the club remains uncertain. 

Additionally, the continuity of Dani Ceballos is in question, and Real Madrid is working on signing Leny Yoro to strengthen their defence.

As the summer progresses, these moves will help finalize the squad that Ancelotti will rely on to tackle the daunting task of competing for seven major titles. 

The preparation and integration of new and returning players will be crucial for Real Madrid as they aim to make history in the upcoming season.

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