Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho believes he has succeeded in making Karim Benzema a potent force ahead of the new La Liga season.
The France striker scored his second and third goals of Real’s pre-season campaign as they beat Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Wednesday night, serving notice of his threat this year, and said: “I have worked hard this summer and I feel good.”
Mourinho, though, was happy to take the credit for the 23-year-old’s improvement.
“Today, Karim thinks about football the way I do,” the Portuguese told Marca. “He has what it takes to produce a good season.
“He is much better than this time last year. I have succeeded in converting him.”
And Mourinho is also confident of improvement from the team as a whole, pointing to his past record as an indicator of what lies ahead.
Having taken over Porto midway through the 2001-02 season, he won the league the next year and added a further domestic title and the Champions League in 2003-04. He then left for Chelsea and added back-to-back Barclays Premier League titles.
“Football is not mathematics and nobody can guarantee this will happen this season, but my second seasons are always better,” he continued.
“The results of pre-season are not the most important thing. The good thing is taking shape. Winning is nice because you travel happier.
“It was good training for us because the league starts soon and we are gathering pace and intensity. After playing against American and Mexican teams, it has been good to come and play in Germany.”