INTERVIEW | 23/02/2020"City are a great side and it'll be an evenly matched game, but our plan is always to win", the frontman declared in an interview with UEFA's media channels.
This Wednesday sees Real Madrid face Manchester City in the Champions League round of 16 (9pm). In an interview with UEFA's official channels, Karim Benzema reflected on his madridista career and spoke about what the competition means to him: "Everything about the Champions League is incredible. The feeling is different and there's more pressure. You can never tell if you're at the summit of your career because you're always seeking perfection. At Real Madrid, we have to win the lot".
You joined Madrid 11 years ago now. How does it feel to have spent such a long time at such a fantastic club?
I'm happy and proud. There are some tough times, but that's part of your career. I think back to when I came here in 2009 and the journey I've been on since then, all of the games I've had the chance to play in at this club, which is the best in the world, and in an amazing stadium. I'm really proud and long may it last.
What does the Champions League mean to Benzema?
It means a great deal. There's something different about it. The feeling is different and I don't know, it's pretty normal to want to give more. It's not that you give less in other competitions, but there's something extra special about the Champions League. I don't know what it is. Everything about the Champions League is incredible and there's more pressure involved.
You face Manchester City in the last 16. What do you make of them?
City are a great side and have an excellent coach. They're a really talented team and one that's not afraid of passing the ball. It'll be an evenly matched tie. Our plan is to always win. We'll obviously analyse the opposition, but our main focus is on ourselves.
You get the feeling that Benzema, just like a fine wine, gets better with age.
I always work hard. Fitness-wise, I'm feeling really great, I feel like I'm in good shape. I regularly go to the gym and I really enjoy myself out on the pitch. I've scored a good few goals in recent seasons. I also provide assists and that's really positive. I like my team and that's what I like about football: doing my best on the pitch to help us to win.
Do you think that this season has been one of the best of your career?
You can never tell if you're at the summit of your career, because you're always seeking perfection. But I've hit a really high level of performance and, despite that, I'm still looking to give more because I know that I've got the chance to go even higher.
What's the secret to be constantly looking to get more out of yourself?
That's the work that nobody sees. It's everything that goes on off the pitch, be it resting up, working or following the right diet. On the pitch everyone has their own strengths and their unique talent. We all work in differently and, off the pitch, you can work on your game.
What's the target for this season?
At Real Madrid, the target is to try and win it all. It's not even about trying to do it, we simply have to win it all. That said, you need luck to be on your side and you have to be on top form at the right time. I can't say that I like losing, but when you do it allows you to question yourself and it gives you that added motivation to hit higher levels. This year we want to achieve something big, both in LaLiga and the Champions League.
After 11 years at Real Madrid, do you consider that you now have the status of a leader and that you're an example for the younger players?
Becoming a leader is something that happens naturally, because right now I'm Real Madrid's third captain. I've experienced a lot of things in season I've been here, I fight for my place in the team, I fight to make the starting XI and help my team. As I always say, my role is to help my teammates when we're fighting on the pitch and I will them on. That's what I do and I'm really happy with that.