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Zidane was speaking about the two stars ahead of his side’s second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a tie in which Los Blancos have a 2-1 lead. In the first leg in Munich, neither Bale nor Benzema started the game.
With both players pushed to the periphery of the squad in recent weeks, speculation has intensified over their future, per Calciomercato.com.
“Benzema and Bale? Well we need them and the rumours aren’t true,” said the Madrid boss. “They will be staying on with us next season, too.”
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At the Allianz Arena last Wednesday, the European champions took on Bayern in the biggest game of their campaign so far. Zidane was happy to let two of the biggest names in his squad watch on from the bench to begin with, with Isco and Lucas Vazquez offering the primary support to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema was introduced into the game as a second-half substitute, although Bale was not called upon at all.
As noted by Lucas Navarrete of Managing Madrid, it appears as though Zidane does’t totally trust the Welshman in the biggest matches:
Lucas Navarrete @LucasNavarreteM
Bale has only played 81 minutes in 5 knock-out games in this Champions League. He’s clearly out of the rotation right now.
After a blistering beginning to life in Madrid, the last couple of campaigns have been a challenge for Bale.
While he’s tended to perform well when on the field, injuries have prevented him from putting together a consistent run of matches for Los Blancos. Meanwhile, the performances of Isco, Vazquez and Marco Asensio have forced Zidane into some tough decisions.
According to Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail, Bale is set to be on the bench for the clash with Bayern on Tuesday. These figures from OptaJose would suggest the forward has a case to be included:
15 – Gareth Bale has scored 15+ goals in four of his five seasons for Real Madrid in all competitions (82 in total). Productivity https://t.co/MwfN6mYhYa
Per Jenson, Manchester United still hold an interest in Bale, although Madrid president Florentino Perez is also said to want to keep the Welshman around for another season.
Benzema’s stock has dropped this term, too. Formerly a key foil for the likes of Ronaldo, this season he’s been a long way short of his best. While the endeavour is still there, Benzema’s holdup play and composure in front of goal have been sloppy.
Football analyst Nic English feels as though the Madrid No. 9 needs a move this summer:
Nic English @nicwenglish
Someone needs to save Karim Benzema this summer. I know he has baggage but come on…
Having formerly forged a tremendous attacking trio with Ronaldo, both Bale and Benzema are both in a challenging position at Madrid. For long spells this season, Zidane’s attack has looked in need of some refreshment, benefiting in particular from the vibrancy of someone like Asensio.
Still, the manager has always been loyal to key players, and Bale and Benzema have both been crucial to the success Los Blancos have enjoyed in recent years. However, it’s tough to shake the sense that both attackers would benefit from making a fresh start elsewhere this summer.