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Zidane explains his decision to substitute Benzema

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
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The French striker had a rare poor display during Real Madrid’s victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday night.

Zinedine Zidane explained his decision to substitute Karim Benzema was only to give Mariano Diaz some game time and denied the striker is feeling drained.

Benzema, who captained Real Madrid on Saturday in Sergio Ramos’ absence, had a rare below-par display in the club’s 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo. He failed to make a single shot on target out of his two attempts, despite both coming from decent positions.

Zidane eventually brought the 33-year-old off during injury-time for Mariano, who has made just four appearances in La Liga overall.

But Benzema’s performance naturally grabbed attention afterward. One possible reason is his considerable game time this season, having started 19 of the club’s 23 games in all competitions this season. Only goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and center-back Raphael Varane have played more.

“I don’t think he’s tired,” said Zidane in his post-match conference on Saturday night.

“I think he did well, and I took him off so that another player could play. We’re in a great spell. We’re doing the right things and we have to continue like this.”

Zidane also reiterated his stance to slowly bring Eden Hazard back into the fold after the Belgian made a 16-minute cameo against Celta.

Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio were both on target to seal all three points for Real Madrid.