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Benitez cool under Bernabeu pressure ahead of Rayo clash

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez insists he does not feel under excessive pressure ahead of the Liga match against Rayo Vallacano.

Last weekend’s 1-0 loss at Villarreal left Benitez’s men five points behind leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the Spanish top flight.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has called for the team to play with greater intensity and identified club icon Zinedine Zidane as a future head coach, while Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea has prompted speculation that Benitez’s great rival could make a return to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Nevertheless, the former Liverpool and Napoli boss remains focused on the task at hand and reducing the deficit to Barcelona as the Spanish and European champions take part in the Club World Cup final against River Plate.

“Fortunately, for many years, working in three major leagues and winning titles has given me enough experience,” Benitez told a pre-match media conference.

“I try to do my job and I will continue to work for Madrid with respect, effort and education.

“Historically, we always want to win, When something goes wrong, we change. That is our idea and we always try to win every game.”

Asked whether he felt more pressure than usual, Benitez simply replied, “No”, while he also declined to comment on Mourinho leaving Chelsea.

“I have no opinion on that subject, I’m focused on my team,” he said.

Benitez is still confident Madrid can challenge for La Liga and the Champions League, although he expects a thorough examination when near neighbours Rayo visit the Bernabeu.

“I am confident,” he said. “Last year Real Madrid had a four-point lead and ended up losing the league. Each season is different because the circumstances are different.

“We are better than what is discussed in the media. We will fight to the end and I am sure we can win La Liga and the Champions League.

“For us, the key is to play your best, take advantage of our qualities. If we are successful we can beat anyone.

“Rayo plays well and we must be vigilant and successful from the defensive phase to attack.”

Sat 19 Dec, 2015
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