James speeding a private matter for Real Madrid - coach Rafa Benitez
Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez says that a reported speeding incident involving James Rodriguez is a private matter and not an issue for the club ahead of Sunday evening's La Liga game at Valencia.
On Friday afternoon €80 million star James was reportedly seen travelling at 200 km/hour in his Audi R8 on Madrid's M40 orbital motorway, and then did not stop when signalled by traffic police, who followed him over six kilometres to the club's Valdebebas training facility.
Some reports say the Colombia international did not follow the orders of the unmarked car behind as he feared a kidnapping, while others say he did not hear the police sirens as the music volume was turned up very high inside the car.
However, after speaking with police at the training ground, James completed Friday's training session as usual, and Benitez suggested the club would not be taking any public action in response to the events.
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"Obviously, we are talking about a private matter," Benitez said. "James is a good kid, serious. He has explained to us what happened. There is nothing else to say. We just wait and see now. I cannot get into this."
Sunday's game will be former Valencia coach Benitez's first time on the opposition bench at Mestalla, since leaving in 2004 having won two La Liga titles and the UEFA Cup during his three seasons in charge.
"It will be emotional for me tomorrow," he said. "Valencia have not lost in 2015 at home, it will be difficult; I know last year Madrid suffered there [losing 2-1 in early January]. On a personal level, I appreciate all Valencia's city, the club and the fans did for me. So it will be special. Of course."
Madrid losing two of their last three La Liga games has heaped pressure on Benitez, but the coach said he was not concerned that a defeat would bring the sack, as he was planning on seeing through his "project" for the team.
"I have full confidence, do not think about slip-ups," he said. "I am sure the team will play well, we must aim for the three points. I arrived at Madrid having had a long career, many trophies won. There is an idea here, a project, which needs time, and at the end to make judgements.
"I try and do my work well, try and win many games, and for things to come out well at the end. I hope to be facing this type of question many times over next two or three years."
Valencia are also out of form at the moment, having not won in six in La Liga, including two draws and a defeat in new coach Gary Neville's three games in charge.
"We know they are under pressure, on run with not such good results after changing coach," Benitez said. "But they always have a hot atmosphere at home which helps the team. They are a young team, will be motivated as always against Madrid. So it will be a tough game, for sure, and I expect the maximum from my players."
Changes to the XI from Wednesday's uneven 3-1 home win over Real Sociedad could see captain Sergio Ramos return at centre-back, and Casemiro picked to stiffen the midfield -- perhaps in place of the out of form and potentially distracted James.
Amid rumours of apparently unsettled players such as Isco [linked with Manchester City] or Toni Kroos [Liverpool] leaving, Benitez said he would not discuss individual names apart from saying that Isco's attitude in training had been impressive.
"I am not going to talk about any names," he said. "Whenever one player does not feature, I get asked about it. All I can say is Isco is a good player, I spoke with him to say he trained well yesterday, there is nothing else. I just try and pick the best XI in each game, and make subs depending on how game goes."