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Another injury for Real Madrid captain Karim Benzema; will he be fit to face Liverpool and Barcelona?

The Frenchman has had a series of fitness issues this season and is set to sit out Saturday’s LaLiga game against Espanyol.

The Frenchman has had a series of fitness issues this season and is set to sit out Saturday’s LaLiga game against Espanyol.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is back in the treatment room...again. What started off as just a murmur on Wednesday has been classified as “ankle discomfort” by the club, with the Frenchman having suffered an eighth injury of the season. The striker was a surprise absentee from training at Valdebebas on Wednesday and, just 48 hours before the LaLiga clash against Espanyol, sat out a second successive session.

Liverpool and Barcelona clashes around the corner

All is clearly not well with Benzema’s fitness and although Los Blancos have played down suggestions that he will miss the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie against Liverpool on Wednesday 15 March, he has been all but ruled out of Saturday’s league game. The only way he could be involved is if he trains as normal on Friday, which appears unlikely as things stand. And with El Clásico against Barcelona coming up just days after the Champions League game, Madrid will not be taking any chances with their captain.

Benzema’s stop-start season

Benzema has suffered seven confirmed injuries this season, each of them seemingly more mysterious than the last. It all began against Celtic in Glasgow on 6 September, when he felt pain in his right knee as he sprinted forward on the counter-attack. Real Madrid’s medical report revealed that he had actually suffered a thigh injury, causing him to miss the win against Mallorca, the victory away to Atlético Madrid and the Champions League home triumph over RB Leipzig. He played in the draw against Osasuna...and was then “rested” against Getafe (a 1-0 win), with his absence in that last game really caused by muscle fatigue. It was, apparently, nothing serious. He had a break, came back, and everything appeared to be back to normal.

Appearances can, however, be deceptive and the “muscle fatigue” - confirmed by Madrid’s medical team - came back with a vengeance before a 3-1 home victory over Sevilla. The French forward also missed the next two matches (the 3-2 defeat in Leipzig and 1-1 home draw with Girona). All in all, Benzema had sat out seven matches by this stage, and there was more to come before the World Cup break. He reappeared for 26 minutes off the bench in the return game against Celtic but didn’t feature in Real Madrid’s last two matches before the tournament in Qatar away to Rayo Vallecano and away to Cádiz.

How many Real Madrid games has Benzema missed this season?

Nevertheless called up by France, he travelled to the Middle East but was almost immediately sent home after suffering another injury in the build-up his country’s first game against Australia. This time, a quad muscle was the issue. Three more injuries followed; he was taken off against Valencia (missing the away defeat to Mallorca and the semi-finals of the Club World Cup) and he didn’t play at Osasuna on 18 February either. The reason for those absences - “discomfort” - remains something of a mystery. All in all, Benzema has already missed 13 games this season due to injury, with Saturday’s likely to be the 14th.

Good news for Carlo Ancelotti

There was, at least, some good news for boss Carlo Ancelotti at Valdebebas on Thursday, with Antonio Rüdiger, who didn’t train on Wednesday, back on the field and in contention to play against Espanyol. Mariano Díaz did some gym work away from the group and is unlikely to feature. Benzema and Mariano join David Alaba and Ferland Mendy, who will be out until after the international break, on the treatment table.


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