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Benzema hails Mourinho influence

Karim Benzema has thanked Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho for helping him to become mentally stronger over the two years they have worked together at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking to the UEFA website prior to Reals Champions League group game in Dortmund on Wednesday, Benzema, 24, said: "The coach made me work a lot on the mental part of my game. I am now stronger in this respect.

"I have had many ups and downs since I arrived in Madrid, but I am still here. Mourinho is a great coach, and he is supporting me."

The former Lyon forward said that the pressure of playing for Madrid would make him "freeze" if he did not find ways to relieve it.

"Pressure has been part of my life since I was at Lyon, though it is more intense here because this is the best club in the world," he explained.

"I do not take the pressure into the game with me, otherwise I would not be able to play at all. I get rid of it by chatting with my little brother."

Madrid fell to German opposition in last year's Champions League, with Bayern Munich winning their semi-final on penalties.

Benzema said that had hurt at the time, but that he and his team-mates had put it behind them, adding: "We had a good campaign and reached the semi-finals.

"Unfortunately we lost to Bayern on penalties, and we were disappointed as we thought we could win the Champions League. But it is forgotten now."

Madrid are currently top of Group D after beating Manchester City and Ajax in their two opening games, but Benzema said they could not afford to slip up in Dortmund considering the strength of the other sides in the group.

"Dortmund are a good team," he said. "They fight every year with Bayern to be first in the Bundesliga."

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