Barcelona star Gerard Pique has lavished his praise on Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema ahead of El Clasico on Sunday evening.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will lock horns in El Clasico on Sunday evening, in what is set to be the first such meeting of the season. The stakes are high, as always, with the hosts hoping to reach third place with a win and pip their arch-rivals in the process.

It is also set to be the first El Clasico in a long time when both Barcelona and Real Madrid will be starting the game without having their fabled stars in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as part of the respective squads. So naturally, new protagonists are bound to emerge and according to Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema might just be one of them.

Speaking to the media ahead of the game, the veteran defender has praised the Frenchman for his performances since the departure of Ronaldo. However, he does insist that Barcelona are not fearful of him and the team is rather looking forward to the encounter.

“I think Cristiano left him some space to occupy and he filled it perfectly. He now has the peace of mind he needs to finish the actions well,” Pique told Moviestar+, as cited by Transfer Market Web.

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Since the departure of Ronaldo in 2018, Benzema has indeed netted 74 goals in Laliga in the space of a little more than three seasons. Nine of his goals have come in the eight matches in Laliga so far, making him the top scorer in the league.

However, Pique believes that Benzema is more than a goalscorer. The defender went on to hail the forward for his years of experience and pedigree at the highest level of football as well as his involvement in this rivalry over the years.

“But Karim is more than a player who scores goals. Throughout the years, he had big seasons and we know very well how hard it is to play against him.”

“It will be fun anyway, and we will have a good time,” said Pique, who is expected to start alongside Eric Garcia at the heart of the Barcelona defence this evening. The personal duel between Pique and Benzema is certainly worth keeping an eye on, as the Catalans look to turn the tide after failing to secure a win in any of their last four El Clasico.

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