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Nov 19, 2012

Benzema: Old Madrid are back

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema says his side showed they were back to their scintillating form of last season in Saturday's 5-1 destruction of Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

• Blog: Real's cat back out of the bag
• Ball: Hunting cats and sausages

Ahead of Madrid's vital Champions League trip to Manchester City on Wednesday, Benzema, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira all made goalscoring returns from injury as Jose Mourinho's side put in their most complete performance of the season against Marcelo Bielsa's struggling Athletic side.

And the French international believes that the game demonstrated that Madrid have put their uneven start to the season behind them.

"The most important thing is that the great Real Madrid of last season are back," he told AS. "We did a lot of very nice things, above all in our movement all around the pitch."

Benzema, 25 next month, had hinted in a recent L'Equipe interview that he was unhappy to have spent so much time on the bench for his club this season, but with Gonzalo Higuain still out with a hamstring problem he started Saturday's game and took his chance to impress.

After first forcing Athletic left-back Jon Aurtenetxe into the own-goal which put Madrid ahead, then sweeping in his side's third with a curling 15-yard strike and finally providing a superb assist for Ozil to score Madrid's fourth, the ex-Lyon man said he can still play even better.

"I cannot say it was my most complete game as in others I have been more decisive," he said. "The most important thing is that, after my adductor injury, I felt well physically. After a fortnight out I needed to feel good while playing. My best game is still to come."

Benzema added that Madrid had not over-celebrated Saturday's victory as thoughts had immediately turned to Wednesday's game at the Etihad Stadium, which Jose Mourinho's side need to win to keep the pressure on current group leaders Borussia Dortmund.

"On Saturday, in the shower, just after the Athletic game, we were already thinking about City," he said.

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