French striker Karim Benzema has said that Real Madrid can still win the Spanish Supercup on Wednesday despite a home draw with bitter rivals Barcelona in the first Clásico of the season at the weekend.
"Two great teams faced each other, but honestly, Madrid deserved the win," he told the sports daily AS about the 2-2 first-leg draw at the Bernabeu on Sunday. "We did much more than Barça, but, hey, we know we have the chance to win tomorrow in Barcelona and lift the Supercup."
The second leg of the Supercup - between league champions Barcelona and Copa del Rey winners Real - takes place at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, with Barça the clear favorites. But Benzema believes that the team created by coach Jose Mourinho, now in his second season at Real, "now knows how to play the Barça" of Pep Guardiola.
"There are many things that have changed since last season," he said. "This time, we had control of the field and we didn't let them play. That's exactly what's required against an opponent like that."
Benzema was out of favour with Mourinho for much of last season, and was often left on the bench in favour of Argentine Gonzalo Higuain and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. Asked if he is now Real's first-choice striker, he replied: "What I'm doing is working to have the role permanently".
"This is the challenge that lies ahead of me. In a team like Madrid, each situation is won every day. That's why there is never room for complacency."
Mourinho recently tipped the 23-year-old France international to enjoy a more successful third season at the Bernabeu. "He has everything required to have a great campaign," the star Portuguese coach said. "He looks much better than he did this time last year. I think I have managed to convince him that my way is the best way."
Benzema told AS: "I never had any problems with Mourinho. I talked to him and now I understand perfectly what is expected of me".