Zinedine Zidane has labelled Gary Lineker's criticism of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema as "embarrassing".
During Madrid's 1-1 Champions League draw against Tottenham on Tuesday, former England striker Lineker tweeted to claim Benzema was "a tad overrated" and "decent, not great".
The 29-year-old Frenchman endured a frustrating outing in front of goal in midweek, with compatriot Hugo Lloris completing a remarkable save from a close-range header to ensure Benzema's tally for the season remains on two from eight matches in all competitions.
Speaking ahead of Madrid's LaLiga match with Eibar on Sunday, Zidane said it was unrealistic for Benzema to provide prolific returns on a par with Cristiano Ronaldo.
But he labelled his forward as the best man to lead the line for Madrid – a pointed observation given recent speculation suggesting Spurs' Harry Kane could be on Madrid's radar.
"It's not just Karim, he's annoying me with [what he says about] Karim because, for people who know football, it's embarrassing," Zidane said, addressing the views of one-time Barcelona forward Lineker.
Is it me or is Benzema a tad overrated? A goal every other game in a team as strong as Real Madrid is nada especial. Decent not great.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 17, 2017
"He's the best number nine for Madrid, by a long way. Karim will not score 60 goals, but he will score 20 goals and assists for 30 or 40 more.
"It bothers me when people talk badly about my players. For me, Benzema is the best.
"For me, a striker doesn't only need to score goals. Karim has everything, not only the goals.
"If Karim has been at Real Madrid for almost 10 years it's not an accident. He always recovers from everything, always shows his qualities.
"On the pitch, he is the best. He has everything. Every quality for a footballer. He could improve, he knows, and he works for it. When he scores more goals, he will be happier".
Barcelona's draw at Atletico Madrid last weekend means Zidane's men have trimmed the gap to their rivals at the summit to five points but they will be without first-choice goalkeeper Keylor Navas (thigh) when Eibar visit the Bernabeu.
"We won't risk Keylor, it’s another different injury," Zidane explained, the 30-year-old having returned from international duty with Costa Rica carrying an adductor problem earlier this month.
He adds to a significant injury list for the reigning Spanish and European champions.
"I think it's a small thing but it's inevitable in football. You can ask me why there are so many injuries, I talk to people who know more and there's no explanation," the coach added.
"Sometimes that happens and we're sure to get all the players back in shape. We're a little upset about all the injuries we have."
|U.S. Open champion Koepka happy to continue being ´overlooked´|
|Pogba: I´m the most criticised player in the world|
|Maradona: Sampaoli´s game plan against Iceland was a disgrace|
|De Gea will bounce back from error – Marchena|
|Slater named for Maroons return|
|Woods, Faldo, Harrington and Koepka – U.S. Open champion joins fine club after successful defence|
|Fleetwood positive despite falling short at U.S. Open|
|Jesus: I had no reason to play for a penalty|
|Hernandez admits to exaggerating fouls against Australia|
|Koepka says winning two U.S. Opens not even in his ´wildest dreams´|
|Hernandez: Griezmann an idol at Atletico|
|Sri Lanka take charge despite Gabriel exploits|
|U.S. Open final-round timeline: How clinical Koepka kept his crown|
|Koepka fights off challengers to successfully defend U.S. Open title|
|´Aching´ Neymar urges referees to intervene|
|BREAKING NEWS: Koepka holds on to defend U.S. Open title|
|Lozano goal causes artificial earthquake in Mexico|
|Djokovic: Mental battle will be Murray´s biggest|
|Hummels criticises Germany tactics in Mexico loss|
|Brazil the latest favourites to stumble, but Tite and Neymar won´t panic|
|Magnificent Fleetwood matches U.S. Open record with closing 63|
|Brazil 1 Switzerland 1: Zuber pegs back below-par Selecao|
|Warrington hold off Wakefield fightback, Tigers held despite Hitchcox heroics|
|Germany follow trend of poor starts for World Cup champions|
|Reed on the charge as U.S. Open race hots up|
|Milinkovic-Savic can play for any team in Europe, says Crespo|
|Southgate keen to unleash his bold new England|
|Konta fumes as Barty takes Nottingham title|
|Kante hails Pogba´s match-winning contribution|
|Germany struggle with generation gap|
|Neymar to make first competitive start since February in Brazil´s World Cup opener|
|Kane gunning for Ronaldo hat-trick heroics in England opener|
|Balotelli would fit in at Marseille - Raiola|
|Captain Ki happy to get tough on South Korea|
|Senegal call up Mbengue with Ciss ruled out|
|Mickelson celebrates at scene of Saturday meltdown|
|Germany 0 Mexico 1: Lozano stuns woeful reigning champions|
|Chandimal to face hearing after pleading not guilty to ball tampering|
|Griezmann ´must do more´, says Deschamps|
|Gasquet shows his class on grass to end Chardy´s chances|
|Courtois: Belgium outsiders not World Cup favourites|
|You can´t compare Ronaldo and Messi – Adrien Silva|
|Kiwis name seven uncapped players for England Test|
|Lorenzo tells critics: Remember MotoGP wins next time I struggle|
|Maaloul singles out ´future of English football´ Alli as main threat|
|Poland v Senegal: Nawalka waits on Glik|
|All Blacks draft in Riccitelli and Hemopo, Barrett not risked for third Test|
|Palermo to appeal play-off result after ´illegal game´|
|Once a year is not enough! - Alonso loved Le Mans bow|
|Colombia v Japan: Kawashima eager to right the wrongs of 2014|
|Russia v Egypt: Salah poised to derail hosts´ juggernaut|
|South Korea swapping kit numbers to confuse Sweden|
|Neuer, Ozil start for Germany in World Cup opener|
|Costa Rica and Serbia serve up plenty of the spectacular in sunny Samara|
|Alonso edges closer to ´Triple Crown´ with Le Mans glory|
|Costa Rica 0 Serbia 1: Kolarov stunner seals points|
|Belgium are better than Argentina – Gomez and Panama ignoring Iceland result|
|Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar would keep the goal - Evra defends Pogba|
|Two in a row for dominant Lorenzo in Barcelona|
|Maradona denies racism claim|
|Resilient Krunic breaks Tour duck|
|Federer wins Stuttgart Open on his return|
|Injured Vunipola to miss England´s series finale in South Africa|
|Ibrahimovic not involved in Sweden´s World Cup plans, insists Andersson|
|Sri Lanka captain Chandimal charged with ball tampering|
|Portugal will not underestimate Morocco, vows Adrien Silva|
|Messi is not Maradona, he does not win a World Cup alone - Crespo|
|Hourcade resigns after Pumas´ series defeat|
|Second place is worthless - Rivaldo admits pressure is on Neymar and Brazil|
|South Africa character made up for mistakes - Erasmus|