Real Madrid continue without Karim Benzema
Benzema has been called into the France squad despite his hit-injury season with Madrid.
Real Madrid have only had their talisman Karim Benzema available for just over half of their games in 2022-23. The Ballon d’Or winner, who was sensational last season, guiding Los Blancos to a league and Champions League double, has only been on the pitch for 958 of a possible 1,800 minutes this season. Madrid have therefore been without their focal point in attack for 47 per cent of the current season.
The match against Cádiz on Thursday night will be the fourth consecutive La Liga fixture without Benzema. His problems started early this season. Carlo Ancelotti already allowed him to train at a different pace over the summer, giving Benzema an extra week’s holiday to rest after last season’s efforts. The Frenchman, who has been included in France’s squad for the 2022 World Cup, was rested for El Clásico in Las Vegas during pre-season.
Ancelotti rejects claims that Benzema has put on the brakes ahead of Qatar. “I don’t believe that he has been left out, it’s nonsense,” he said on Wednesday in the build-up to the game against Cádiz. However, Madrid do notice when their top scorer is absent. Of their 48 goals in total this season, 31 came in the 12 games in which Benzema was involved, offering an average of 2.6 goals per game.
Defeats to Leipzig and Rayo
Without Benzema, that figure drops to 2.1. And if you look at the results, it is even more remarkable. The only two defeats in the 2022-23 season have come against RB Leipzig and Rayo Vallecano, with Benzema watching from home. In his absence, the armband has been passed to the experienced trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Nacho. Real Madrid fans will have to wait until at least 30 or 31 December (the exact date is yet to be determined) for Benzema’s return, when the reigning champions will travel to Valladolid.
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