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Ancelotti: Hard To Bench Saint Iker

Real Madrid skipper Iker Casillas is set to make his first start of the season when Los Blancos take on Galatasaray in the Champions League tonight.

Casillas has been relegated to the substitutes bench by Diego Lopez again, who hast started the season in excellent form.

It had been assumed that new manager Carlo Ancelotti would return Casillas to the starting line-up, but the Italian has persisted with Lopez based on the former Villarreal ‘keeper’s good form in training.

And Ancelotti was rewarded for his brave choice when Lopez made a string of fine saves to help Madrid take a point away from his old club last weekend.

But true to his word, Ancelotti will give club icon Casillas the chance to play tonight, and admits that it has been difficult keeping the 32-year-old out of the team.

"Yes, it's hard [to levae Casillas out], because it's always hard to leave a player on the bench, and it's all the more so when the player is called Iker Casillas, but not for the history that he represents. History never gives you the chance to play,” Ancelotti told L’Equipe.

"During my last year as a player at AC Milan, I was part of the furniture at the club, but a younger player came in, with enthusiasm and talent, and he played in my place. It was Demetrio Albertini. Casillas is a very good goalkeeper, but I chose Diego Lopez because he started the pre-season 15 days before him and he's in good shape. It's my decision."

Meanwhile, Ancelotti has given his backing to striker Karim Benzema, who is under-fire in his homeland France due to his ongoing goal drought with the national team.

But despite Benzema’s lack of popularity in France, Ancelotti has faith in the striker’s ability to get the job done for Real Madrid.

"I can say that Karim works and is professional," he said.

"If I had to pick a fault, I think he has to show more personality on the pitch. He's an experienced player, he's played a lot of top-level games, but he doesn't speak enough on the pitch.

"I think Real Madrid will give him confidence this season. For me, Benzema is one of the most important players in the French national team. It's bizarre that he hasn't scored with Les Bleus."

Read: Casillas Under Pressure

Read: Casillas Or Lopez? Carlo Stalls

Read: Clock Ticks For Goal Shy Benzema

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