Ancelotti: Benzema remains Real Madrid's No.9

The Italian coach has not lost his faith in the France international, while praising winger Angel Di Maria and voicing his delight at the return of Raphael Varane
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti insists that Karim Benzema remains his first-choice striker despite the Frenchman's profligacy in front of goal in recent weeks.

The former Olympique Lyonnais forward has failed to find the net in Los Blancos' last five La Liga encounters and was recently whistled by his own fans at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Nevertheless, Ancelotti is satisfied with the attacker's performances and has no intention of dropping him any time soon.

"Benzema has his place within the team and remains our starting forward," the Madrid boss stated at a press conference.

"He has not scored in our past few games but I have faith in him. I haven't spoken with him after our last game because he doesn't need that."

The Italian coach then went on to praise Angel Di Maria in light of the Argentine's fine performances so far this season.

"Di Maria has been doing very well," the Champions League winner enthused. "He scored twice this week when he played higher up the pitch.

"One of his biggest assets is that he can play in many different positions. He is a very versatile player and that's pretty useful."

Ancelotti also had his say on Raphael Varane after his comeback from injury, stressing that the centre-back's return will increase the competition for places in defence.

"The most important thing is that he's back from injury again," the 54-year-old stated. "He did very well and always remained calm. His return will increase competition for places."