Real Madrid’s Benzema to miss Las Vegas Clásico against Barcelona
Karim Benzema will not be involved in the blockbuster preseason clash in Nevada, having agreed with boss Carlo Ancelotti to take a few extra days’ holiday.
The Las Vegas Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which will be played on 23 July at Allegiant Stadium (the 65,000-capacity arena is already sold out), will have to do without the likely winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or: Madrid’s Karim Benzema.
Ancelotti opts to give Benzema extra time off
Benzema’s absence from the game is due to a decision made by Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti, in agreement with the player, to give the 34-year-old a few more days of rest after an exhausting season in which he made 46 appearances in all competitions.
Ancelotti and Benzema have agreed that the France international will join up with the Madrid squad on 19 July in Los Angeles, where the Spanish and European champions will be based throughout their stay in the US. After facing Barça, Los Blancos are to take on América in San Francisco on 26 July and Juventus in Pasadena three days later, before returning to Spain.
Benzema’s late arrival in LA means he will only have three days’ training under his belt before the Clásico, so Ancelotti won’t give him game time in Las Vegas, as it would represent an unnecessary risk of injury so soon after his return to work.
An opportunity for Mayoral and, possibly, Hazard
The striker’s absence will give Borja Mayoral the opportunity to demonstrate that Ancelotti’s commitment to him as Benzema’s chief understudy is well placed. It could also be the Madrid boss’ first chance to test out Eden Hazard as a makeshift centre-forward - a tactical plan previously reported by AS and confirmed by the Italian in statements to the Mexican media as he looked ahead to the game against América.
Benzema sidelined for second straight Clásico
Curiously, Benzema was also unable to face Barça in the last Clásico, in LaLiga on 20 March, after being ruled out by a thigh muscle injury. Madrid badly missed him that night, as Ancelotti’s experiment of playing Luka Modric at false nine failed and the Blaugrana claimed a 4-0 victory at the Bernabéu.
Benzema’s renewed absence against Barça is unfortunate for the Frenchman, because he boasts a good record against Madrid’s arch rivals, having scored 11 goals and supplied 10 assists against them. His next opportunity to go up against the Catalans will be on 15 or 16 October at the Bernabéu, in the first Clásico of the 2022-23 Spanish league campaign. That match will be played just 24 or 48 hours before the Ballon d’Or gala in Paris, where he’s expected to pick up the France Football award for the first time in his career.