Watch: Real Madrid boss Lopetegui plays down awards after Bale's Puskas nomination

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Julen Lopetegui says he’s not ‘fond’ of individual awards.

The Real Madrid manager acknowledged Gareth Bale’s good form but is not bothered by awards in light of the Welshman’s Puskas nomination.

Bale received a nomination for his Champions League final goal against Liverpool – an overhead strike.

Watch Lopetegui’s reaction below.

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Live Real Madrid blog: Julen Lopetegui hails Karim Benzema's goal-scoring form

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Hola Madridistas. Welcome to Friday’s Real Madrid blog.

Alex Rea and the rest of the Sport360 team will be here throughout the day, bringing you the latest Los Blancos news, views and gossip.

As ever, get in touch with us throughout the day on Twitter and Facebook.

22:00 – Julen Lopetegui hails Karim Benzema’s goal-scoring form

Julen Lopetegui believes Karim Benzema is enjoying the prime stage of his career as he helps Real Madrid cope without record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.

In-form striker Benzema has registered four times in three LaLiga games during Real’s 100 per cent start under new coach Lopetegui.

Read the Real Madrid coach’s quotes in full here.

Benzema has come in for some praise from the Real Madrid head coach.

Benzema has come in for some praise from the Real Madrid head coach.

19:55 – Bernabeu renovation could hinder transfer business

Renovations to their famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium could hamper Real Madrid‘s future transfer activity, according to AS.

Club president Florentino Perez’s plans for the stadium could put the club in debt of up to €575million.

Read more here.

17: 40 – PSG chief hits out at Madrid

Real Madrid have come under criticism from Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi for their pursuit of Neymar.

Los Blancos have made no effort to hide their interest in the Brazilian and the PSG chief has now taken a jibe at the Spanish giants for their ‘behind the scenes’ moves to secure his signature.

Read more here.

Neymar (R) poses with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Neymar (R) poses with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

16:30 – Madrid training

Madrid resume their domestic campaign with a trip to Athletic Bilbao following the international break.

Los Blancos will be hoping to maintain their 100 per cent start to the La Liga season.

Watch the players in training below as they gear up for the encounter.

13:30 – Will the dream become a reality?

Everton star Richarlison has been in sparkling form for the Premier League side this season and already there is talk he could be set for bigger things.

He scored two stunners on debut for Brazil against El Salvador during the international break and unsurprisingly he was then asked by the media if he one day had ambitions of playing for one of Real Madrid or Barcelona.

What do you think he had to say?

Check out his response

12:00 – Goals, goals and squad goals 

Gareth Bale has started the season with a bang, scoring three and assisting another in three La Liga outings.

And he’s looking super sharp in training as well, along with his Los Blancos team-mates Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema.

11:08 – Mariano’s delight in taking on No7 shirt 

The No7 shirt is a bit of a prized asset at Real Madrid and so no it’s not surprising Mariano Diaz has spoken of his “honour” in taking on the jersey.

Of course, it was left vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit, and Marco Asensio seems disappointed he wasn’t offered the number.

However, at least he is getting game time at Madrid, unlike his countryman Mariano!

Read what the summer signing has to say

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Real Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui believes Karim Benzema is at the peak of his powers

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Benzema has come in for some praise from the Real Madrid head coach.

Julen Lopetegui believes Karim Benzema is enjoying the prime stage of his career as he helps Real Madrid cope without record scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.

In-form striker Benzema has registered four times in three LaLiga games during Real’s 100 per cent start under new coach Lopetegui.

The Frenchman had been regularly overshadowed by the goalscoring exploits of Ronaldo since his arrival at the Bernabeu in 2009, finishing behind him in the goalscoring charts in each of the last nine seasons.

But, following his former team-mate’s £99.2million summer switch to Juventus, he has responded to the extra responsibility in style.

“I’m not surprised, he’s a great footballer who is in his peak and at a good age and conditions,” Lopetegui said of Benzema at his press conference ahead of the trip to Athletic Bilbao.

“We want him to continue doing what he’s doing or even better. The players are the ones who play and overcome the difficulties we face.”

Former Lyon man Benzema scored twice in the 4-1 victory over Leganes before the international break and has now found the net against each of the 33 teams he has faced in Spain’s top flight.

The 30-year-old, who has managed 131 LaLiga goals in his career, also has a good record against weekend opponents Bilbao, registering eight times.

Saturday’s fixture comes ahead of Real’s opening Champions League group game of the campaign, with Serie A side Roma due in Madrid on Wednesday.

Benzema had scored twice in Madrid's win over Leganes.

Benzema had scored twice in Madrid’s win over Leganes.

Lopetegui has the unenviable task of trying to retain the European trophy after predecessor Zinedine Zidane won it three years in a row.

Asked about rotating his team with the midweek game in mind, the former Spain coach insisted he is fully focused on the match at San Mames.

“The Roma match is coming up, but we’re only thinking about Athletic,” he said.

“You have to go into games full of energy.

“We take into account the circumstances that we’re in, but we’re looking for the best way to win a very important game against Athletic.”

Hosts Bilbao are unbeaten following their opening two matches, winning one and drawing the other.

Athletic coach Eduardo Berizzo feels Real are just as strong without 33-year-old Ronaldo, who managed 451 goals during his nine-season stay in the Spanish capital.

“I don’t think they are a weaker team as a result,” Berizzo said about the Portuguese’s departure, according to Marca.

“Cristiano sometimes dictated the selection, not in a negative way but it made the system predictable.”

The Argentinian also challenged his players to be fearless against the European champions.

“Being brave and courageous is an essential issue and our team must show that,” he said.

“When you face a rival of the stature of Real Madrid, you must value your own way of playing, they are a very balanced opponent but we must look past that.”

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