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Ballon d’Or winner Benzema is ‘more of a leader’, says Ancelotti

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema feels like he has grown into a team leader.

The striker, who joined Real Madrid in 2009, has developed into the side’s figurehead since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.

Benzema won his first Ballon d’Or trophy on Monday night, celebrating his performances as he fired Madrid to a La Liga and Champions League double with 44 goals in 46 games.

“He’s a player who has a lot more responsibility, he feels much more of a leader,” Ancelotti told a press conference.

“His quality has not changed, it’s the same as it was eight years ago. But his responsibility to the team has changed, and his attitude. He’s much more of a leader.”

Portugal striker Ronaldo won the trophy four times while at Real Madrid, becoming the club’s all-time top goalscorer, with Benzema feeding him in a secondary role.

Manchester City, whom Real Madrid beat in the Champions League semi-finals, were given an award for being club of the year.

“The best team was Real Madrid, and they got the prize for that, which is the Champions League,” said Ancelotti. “A lot of respect to (City), of course, but for us, the biggest prize—we received it in May.”

Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the Clasico on Sunday and take on Elche as league leaders on Wednesday, with the Italian coach encouraging his team to focus.

“We have to push a bit harder,” added Ancelotti. “It’s normal to have more concentration in top level games, but it’s a bit harder to have maximum concentration after a game which cost you so much on a mental and physical level.”

Thibaut Courtois, who won the Yashin Trophy on Monday for the best goalkeeper of the year, will not be available after suffering sciatica and Andriy Lunin will continue to stand in.

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