Karim Benzema almost certain to miss Real Madrid against Girona
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema looks set to sit out Thursday’s match against Girona. Antonio Rüdiger misses out but Toni Kroos returns
Karim Benzema hasn’t been available for selection for some time now and there looks to be very little hope of him playing for Real Madrid before the World Cup. Prior to Monday’s defeat to Rayo Vallecano, Carlo Ancleotti was optimistic when speaking about the Frenchman’s fitness and, although he ruled him out of the game in Vallecas, had stated that he would available for Thursday’s clash with Girona: “Benzema isn’t going to play against Rayo because he wasn’t feeling right. He trained on Friday and seemed to be OK but then suffered a little setback. He’ll be involved against Cádiz, though.” The situation, however, has changed after Tuesday’s training session. Benzema didn’t join in with the rest of his teammates and instead did some gym work, making him a serious doubt for the visit of Cádiz. Benzema is still ‘MIA’.
Antonio Rüdiger, meanwhile, has again been ruled out by the hip injury which prevented him from taking to the field in Monday night’s loss. These are the first two games of the season that the German international has missed.
Karim Benzema has missed 40% of Real Madrid’s games in 2022-23 due to injury
Benzema’s statistics, on the other hand, are rather more worrying. In 2021-22, he didn’t feature in 11 out of 56 fixtures (19.6%), a number which has already jumped to 40% this season (8 out of 20) and will move to 45% should he be absent once more on Thursday. His continued absence has started to weigh heavily on the team in recent weeks, with slip-ups at RB Leipzig (2-3), at home to Girona (1-1) and away to Rayo (2-3) coming without Los Blancos’ main talisman on the field. The ‘quadriceps muscular fatigue’ which the club stated was the reason for his absence from the home game against Sevilla, when Benzema showed off his newly-won Ballon d’Or to the Santiago Bernabéu crowd, has gone from a minor issue to a major problem.
In the last five games, Benzema has played only 26 minutes, the last of which came in the resounding 5-1 victory over Celtic which ensured Real Madrid won their Champions League group. The ex-Lyon striker came close to finding the net in his cameo appearance, denied only by a clearance off the line from Bhoys defender Karl Starfelt, and looked to be in good physical shape ahead of the last few pre-World Cup matches. However, that’s not how things have worked out and Madrid have been pegged back at the top of LaLiga having previously moved ahead of Barcelona thanks to a superb start to the season.
“We’re not in as good form as earlier in the season but we’re still in the fight to win every competition we’re in. We’re disappointed but there’s still a long way to go in the league”, assured Ancelotti, with his glass half-full. Barcelona are just two points clear at the top of LaLiga, while Real Madrid are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, where Liverpool await.
Toni Kroos returns for Real Madrid vs Girona
The upcoming World Cup has certainly had an effect on the European champions and their current run of results means that beating Cádiz is an absolute must to ensure they go into the break in as best shape as possible. The good news for Thursday’s game against Girona is the return of Toni Kroos, who missed the game in Vallecas through suspension, the first of his career. The German’s absence was badly felt by Madrid, who suffered from a lack of organisation and precision in the engine room, areas in which the ex-Bayern Munich man excels. Ancelotti picked the strongest possible line-up against Rayo and everything points towards him doing the same on Thursday. With Benzema almost certainly set to be absent, Rodrygo will have the chance to make amends for a disappointing display on Monday.
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