When Karim Benzema struck a magnificent hat-trick against Barcelona last week in the Copa del Rey, it served a dual purpose.

The striker knocked Real Madrid’s bitter rivals out of the Spanish Cup at Camp Nou, and, with the world watching on, issued a powerful statement of intent as the season reaches its business end.

Los Blancos welcome Chelsea on Wednesday to the Santiago Bernabeu in a first leg Champions League quarter-final clash, and the Blues will be on red alert trying to stop the irrepressible Benzema.

Madrid, aiming to win the trophy for the sixth time in 10 seasons, have burst into life in recent matches, scoring 12 goals in their last three games, including the 4-0 romp against Barcelona.

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