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Sep 17, 2013

Ancelotti: It's hard to leave Casillas out

Carlo Ancelotti has told L'Equipe it is "hard" to leave Iker Casillas out of the Real Madrid side and said he wants Karim Benzema to "show more personality" on the pitch.

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Casillas, 32, is set to make his first competitive appearance for Madrid since January when they start their quest for the club's tenth Champions League success at Galatasaray on Tuesday.

Former coach Jose Mourinho created something of a divide when he relegated Casillas to the bench, but -- in La Liga at least -- the Spain international remains behind Diego Lopez under Ancelotti too.

The Italian said: "Yes, it's hard, because it's always hard to leave a player on the bench, and it's all the more so when the player is called Iker Casillas, but not for the history that he represents. History never gives you the chance to play.

"During my last year as a player at AC Milan, I was part of the furniture at the club, but a younger player came in, with enthusiasm and talent, and he played in my place. It was Demetrio Albertini. Casillas is a very good goalkeeper, but I chose Diego Lopez because he started the pre-season 15 days before him and he's in good shape. It's my decision."

Though Casillas' club future is uncertain, his status with the national side is secure; Benzema, meanwhile, is in exactly the opposite position. With the 25-year-old’s goal-scoring drought at international level stretching back to early June 2012, the former Lyon forward found himself dropped to the bench for France's most-recent qualifier against Belarus.

He has scored twice and laid on as many goals in the opening four Liga games of the season, even if Ancelotti would still like to see more.

"I can say that Karim works and is professional," the former PSG coach said. "If I had to pick a fault, I think he has to show more personality on the pitch. He's an experienced player, he's played a lot of top-level games, but he doesn't speak enough on the pitch.

"I think Real Madrid will give him confidence this season. For me, Benzema is one of the most important players in the French national team. It's bizarre that he hasn't scored with Les Bleus."

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