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Karim Benzema: Real Madrid better than last season, confident for clasico

Karim Benzema believes Champions League holders Real Madrid are in even better shape than last season after a 3-0 victory at Liverpool on Wednesday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side raced to a three-goal lead by half-time at Anfield, with Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring with a stunning volley and Benzema bagging a brace to send Real six points clear in Group B.

The 26-year-old France international says the club are hitting form at the perfect time, with the clasico clash against Barcelona on Saturday fast approaching.

"I'm very happy with the match," he told the club's official website. "It was very difficult but we did a great job as a team and what's important is that we got the three points. We know that [Liverpool] puts on a lot of pressure, but when we defend well together we can put together counter-attacks to create chances.

"I give my all whenever I'm on the field. It's true that in the Champions League I'm lucky enough to score goals but the other competitions are just as important. The team changes when players are missing; now [Gareth] Bale is out, but Isco and James [Rodriguez] worked well. We have a lot of players to make a good team. We're in better shape than last year."

Benzema notched a brace to hand Real a comfortable victory at Anfield.

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas has been under pressure for both Real and Spain this season but kept a clean sheet at Anfield, and hopes to repay the faith of Madrid's travelling fans with more silverware.

"We played a really complete match both in defence and in attack," he said. "The team was really solid and we have to keep going this way for the whole season, which will be a long and hard one.

"We're in really good shape and the team is looking strong in every department. In the matches to come we have to continue in this vein of winning, winning and winning. I think that the good thing is that we feel comfortable in whatever system the coach chooses; that's fundamental. Knowing that we are a team is what will get us to the final like in other seasons.

"At Anfield they've always been in the habit of applauding the opposition goalkeeper and it's something that you feel grateful for, but something we also take away from today are the fans that have come here, and have come in their numbers. It's fundamental that the people are behind the team and we hope to come together again in May or June, celebrating another title."

Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 18 goals in 10 Primera Division and Champions League games this season.

Alvaro Arbeloa -- a former Liverpool player -- insists the Anfield win will live long in his memory, but is already looking ahead to Saturday's clasico against an in-form Barca side who currently top La Liga.

El Clasico: Real Madrid 3-1 Barcelona

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- ESPN FC TV: Team aspect was key

"The Anfield crowd was able to acknowledge the job we did," he said. "They know that we have come here full of respect and that's why they applauded our win. It's a unique night for the club. We put in a great performance and we had never won here; I think it'll live in the memory.

"Both teams go into the clasico in top form. We are working very hard and you can see that. The details are what make the difference."

Benzema and Casillas are also confident ahead of the Bernabeu clash, with the striker stating: "We know that against Barcelona it's always a great match and a really difficult one. We're firing on all cylinders and we're going to win."

Casillas added: "We go into the clasico in good shape. But it's a different game. What's important is that we're playing at home and the aim is to win the match to cut the points gap on Barcelona. Cristiano [Ronaldo] is in really good form."


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