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Benitez to give Bale free role

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez is ready to give Gareth Bale a free role this season as he bids to get the best out of the Welshman.

The winger was criticised for his performances by supporters last term and suffered a crisis of confidence as the club failed to win a major trophy.

However, Bale has played as a No.10 behind Karim Benzema during pre-season, with Benitez keen to give him more freedom in the final third.

"Bale behind the striker? I like to give freedom within an order. Like that we are more unpredictable," he said on Saturday.

While Sergio Ramos has committed his future to the club, the future of Karim Benzema has continually been the subject of continued speculation this summer.

Arsenal and Manchester United have both been credited with an interest in the player, but Benitez shrugged off any suggestion he could leave.

"I have said many times that I am convinced that Benzema is a great striker and I think he has demonstrated that. We also have Ronaldo and Jese [Rodriguez]...so now we do not seek any number nines."

New signing Mateo Kovacic could make his debut against Sporting Gijon on Sunday, with Benitez set to take charge of his first competitive fixture since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Spaniard was quizzed on the make-up of his side on Saturday and told reporters: "I think I have a great squad, I'm thrilled with what I have and my job is to improve what we have.

"As for the line-up, I am not going to say, they are all motivated to play and we will work with all of the players so that they feel that they can be starters.

Defending Liga champions Barcelona get their title defence under way against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Benitez is confident his side can wrestle the title from their rivals.

"For me it is a great challenge to be at the most important club in the world and I will try to win everything that I can win," Benitez added.

"Luis Enrique is normal to think that Barcelona are favourites, but I think we will fight until La Liga is over.

"Real Madrid approach each match and each competition with the idea of winning it.

"For me it is a great challenge to be at the most important club in the world and I will try to win everything that I can win."