Kalidou Koulibaly has singled out Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema for praise ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League quarter-final clash.
Struggling Premier League side Chelsea travel to the Bernabeu on Wednesday for the first leg of their quarter-final clash.
The London club have endured a disappointing campaign, slipping into the bottom-half of the Premier League and seeing two permanent managers – Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter – come and go.
After Potter’s sacking this month, Chelsea chose to appoint club legend Frank Lampard as caretaker head coach until the end of the campaign.
But Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge did not get off to a good start as the Blues were beaten 1-0 by Wolves at the weekend.
Chelsea will look to put their poor domestic form to one side when they face Champions League holders Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Koulibaly knows it will be tough for Chelsea to progress, however, and singled out Benzema for praise ahead of his side’s trip to Madrid.
Benzema has scored 348 goals in 637 matches for Real Madrid and won the Ballon d’Or award last year.
‘I said about two or three years ago, he is the best striker in the world,’ Koulibaly told BBC Sport. ‘It will be a tough game but I hope Chelsea will win and pass this test.
‘It is our objective but it is going to be hard because they won the last Champions League. We believe in ourselves, in our team-mates and manager.
‘I am happy for Benzema, he is a good example for the Muslim people that we can do Ramadan, score goals and be productive. I hope he continues to score, but not on Wednesday!’
On Lampard’s return to Stamford Bridge, Koulibaly added: ‘We know he is a legend here and he has already trained half of the team.
‘The situation is like this for the moment, but in training he has been saying he will support us until the end and help us to be out of this situation.
‘We know it is a difficult situation for everybody, including the club, manager and supporters, but we will give everything to get out of this and make them happy.
‘Our first objective is to win the games and make our supporters happy.’