Benzema hands Zidane a boost ahead of Atlético derby clash
Karim Benzema looks set to feature for Real Madrid in this weekend's capital city derby against Atlético, giving Zidane a welcome option in attack.
Karim Benzema has handed Zinedine Zidane some good news ahead of the Madrid derby on Sunday after joining full training two days ahead of the top of the table clash at the Metropolitano. The Real Madrid manager has been shuffling his deck of late as a swathe of injuries have depleted his squad, leaving the bench regularly staffed by Castilla players. With Atlético five points ahead the derby has taken on huge importance and Zidane will be desperate to have his top scorer available with Mariano unavailable and his side increasing reliant for goals arriving from beyond the attacking line in recent weeks.
Benzema has bagged 17 in all competitions this season, 12 of them in LaLiga, also teeing up five assists for his teammates. In the absence of the Frenchman in recent fixtures, Madrid have recorded two 1-0 victories (Valladolid and Atalanta) and a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad on Wednesday, a result that meant Madrid remained in third going into this weekend’s game whereas a win would have pulled Zidane’s side to within three points of their city rivals.
Zidane looking to Benzema for goals against Atlético
"We hope he can be with us, but we have to wait and see because he still hasn't trained with the team," Zidane said after the La Real draw on Benzema’s chances of making the derby. "We'll assess the situation tomorrow [Thursday]. He's OK. Karim's injury is much better and we'll take a look at him.”
The sight of Benzema on the training pitches as Valdebebas on Friday will have heartened Madrid fans give that failure to beat Atlético on Sunday will swing momentum in the title race back towards the red and white half of the city. Atlético have stumbled recently and could have put the title more or less out of reach if draws against Levante and Celta had been turned into wins with the Frogs taking four points from the leaders in the space of a week last month.
Zidane will be without several first-team players again for the derby with Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Éder Militão, Dani Carvajal and Benzema’s natural back-up Mariano all unavailable for the Atlético game.