Kalidou Koulibaly singles out Real Madrid star for praise ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash
Kalidou Koulibaly has singled out Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema for praise ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final. Struggling Premier League giants Chelsea travel to the Bernabeu on Wednesday night for the first leg of their quarter- final tie.
The Blues have endured a miserable campaign, slipping into the bottom-half of the Premier League and seeing two permanent managers – Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter – come and go. Following Potter’s sacking earlier in the month, Chelsea opted to appoint club legend Frank Lampard as caretaker manager until the end of the season.
But Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge did not get off to a positive start as the Blues were beaten 1-0 by Wolves at the weekend. Chelsea will look to put their dismal domestic form to one side when they face Champions League holders Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
Koulibaly knows it will be tough for Chelsea to progress, however, and singled out Benzema for praise ahead of his side’s trip to Madrid. Benzema has scored 348 goals in 637 appearances for Real Madrid and won the Ballon d’Or award last year.
‘I said about two or three years ago, he is the best striker in the world,’ Koulibaly told BBC Sport . ‘It will be a tough game but I hope Chelsea will win and pass this test. ‘It is our objective but it is going to be hard because they won the last Champions League. We believe in ourselves, in our team-mates and manager.
‘I am happy for Benzema, he is a good example for the Muslim people that we can do Ramadan, score goals and be productive. I hope he continues to score, but not on Wednesday!’
Lampard spent 18 months in charge of Chelsea between July 2019 and January 2021. The ex-England midfielder then moved to Everton but lost his job at Goodison Park earlier this season. On Lampard’s return to Chelsea, Koulibaly added:
‘We know he is a legend here and he has already trained half of the team. ‘The situation is like this for the moment, but in training he has been saying he will support us until the end and help us to be out of this situation. ‘We know it is a difficult situation for everybody, including the club, manager and supporters, but we will give everything to get out of this and make them happy. ‘Our first objective is to win the games and make our supporters happy.’