‘Spectacular’ Melbourne gives Real Madrid a pre-season boost - Benitez
Los Blancos arrived in the Victorian capital this week ahead of International Champions Cup matches against Manchester City and Roma, with the Serie A side their first opponents at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday night.
The Liga giants have trained at AAMI Park and Melbourne City's state-of-the-art La Trobe University training ground, with the facilities and surroundings receiving a ringing endorsement from the former Liverpool and Napoli boss.
Asked by Madrid's club website for his initial impressions of Australia, Benitez said: "They're really positive."
"It's a spectacular place … there's a culture centred around sport and hard work.
"At this moment in time, it's good for us to be able to increase the time we've spent together and on the pitch. With the intensity and attitude the players are showing in the way they work, right now we're in a position to bring the best out of ourselves."
Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luke Modric, despite all having played in England, were wrapped up warm at Tuesday night's session as Melbourne shivered through its coldest day in two years.
Manchester City's Yaya Toure has even found the brisk Gold Coast winter something of a surprise, jokingly suggesting the club consider Africa for a future pre-season camp.
Benitez though, a notoriously hard taskmaster, has welcomed the opportunity to push his players to the limit without worrying about heat stroke or exhaustion.
"Pre-seasons are there to work, to get to know each other, and the conditions we have are good," he said.
"The fact that it isn't as hot as in other places means that you can really work hard and it's a great help to us that the pitch is in the right condition to circulate the ball and for the kind of intensity with which we want to do things."