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Karim Benzema believes Real Madrid can challenge Barcelona’s dominance next season. José Mourinho’s side finished four points adrift in La Liga as Barcelona secured a third successive title and were also knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by their rivals.

However, with the prospect of further additions to the squad, Benzema is confident that Real are on the right track. Asked whether they could beat Barça next season, he told the Spanish newspaper AS: “Sure we can. I have never doubted it.

“We are a great team but we started last season with a new coach, with players and gradually had to fit everything together. Now we can continue with the same group and some reinforcements and I am convinced that we will be very competitive. We’re going to make it very difficult for Barça, I can assure you.

“We will be very strong this year. The group is fantastic. Everyone gets along. We are very supportive and we have a very good coach. I am very optimistic about this new season.”

Benzema has put behind him any thoughts of leaving Madrid after a discussion with Mourinho in January that helped revive his fortunes. An injury to Gonzalo Higuaín opened up a place in the side and Benzema took his chance, ending the season as Real’s second-top scorer, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, with 26 goals in all competitions.

“I am not one who will normally go and see the coaches but at that moment I felt the need,” he said. “I asked what he thought of me and I told him what I thought. I calmed down. I noticed his interest and confidence. This meeting between the two of us was very important.”

Having joined Real from Lyon in 2009, Benzema struggled in his first season and has frequently been linked with a move away from the club. But the France international believes Mourinho’s faith in him has helped to improve his game.

“I never thought about [leaving], even in the difficult times,” he said. “That is my strength and my philosophy. I realise that, when one is lucky enough to be at such an important club as Real Madrid, you should be prepared for suffering. It is part of the game.

“It’s easy [to explain my good form]. The coach gave me confidence and enabled me to string together several performances. Mourinho again put me in the side and that changed everything. I came to Madrid to score goals and provide a great spectacle of football. I want to please people. In Madrid I do what I did in Lyon, but better.”

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