Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema at Cristiano Ronaldo, Erling Haaland goalscoring level

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has said Karim Benzema‘s goalscoring form puts the striker on the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo and Erling Haaland.

Benzema — who was named No. 3 among strikers in ESPN’s FC 100 for 2021 — has been in the form of his life this season and has scored 20 goals in 23 appearances for Madrid so far this campaign.

The 34-year-old is the top scorer in LaLiga and his goals have fired Madrid to the top of the table, where they hold an eight-point lead over second-placed Sevilla.

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Benzema’s two strikes in the 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, the first of which was a stunning effort, was a continuation of that form, with Ancelotti claiming the France international was “the best striker in the world” at the moment.

“I think so, because to his game he’s added a massive, regular ability to put the ball in the back of the net,” Ancelotti told AS. “He’s at the level of Cristiano Ronaldo or Haaland.

“Benzema is a player who makes a difference. We saw it once again in the game against Athletic, with two goals in quick succession. He’s in amazing form.”

The striker has flourished since Ronaldo departed the Bernabeu in 2018, but that has not stopped Madrid being linked with moves for forwards such as Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain‘s Kylian Mbappe in recent years.

Ancelotti, who returned to Madrid last summer after departing Everton, will face former team PSG in the Champions League round of 16 in February.

Madrid were initially handed a tie against Benfica, but the draw had to be repeated by UEFA due to a technical error, leading to Ancelotti’s side facing a stronger team in Lionel Messi‘s PSG.

The Spanish club were said to be “furious” with UEFA over how the draw was handled, with sources telling ESPN that Madrid were insistent that their initial draw against Benfica should have stood.

“It was a sad situation, a clear mistake,” Ancelotti said of the draw. “But there you go, it was a mistake and nothing more.

“Now we need to focus on the tie against PSG. The aim is to go into the tie with the team in the same state as it was before the recent COVID outbreak. What I want is to get into February with no injuries and nobody infected.”

Madrid are dealing with a significant COVID-19 outbreak in their first-team squad, with Luka Modric, David Alaba, Marcelo, Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale, Rodrygo, Isco and Andriy Lunin — as well as assistant Davide Ancelotti — all testing positive ahead of the trip to San Mames this week.

Ancelotti, whose side have a week off over Christmas before they face Getafe in LaLiga on Jan. 2, dismissed suggestions that Madrid already have the the title wrapped up, despite the club holding a 17-point lead over champions Atletico Madrid and an 18-point advantage over Barcelona at the league’s halfway stage.

“We’ve got a small advantage and it’s true that some of our rivals, such as Atletico or Barca, are somewhat behind,” Ancelotti said. “But not Sevilla, for example. LaLiga is a tough competition because you can never say this is an easy game. There are so many good teams, and so much good football on offer.”