Real Madrid are facing a crucial eight days in their season, as they face Epsanyol on Saturday, followed by Liverpool in the Champions League and a do or die El Clasico at Camp Nou. Hanging over those fixtures is this fitness of Karim Benzema.
The current Ballon d’Or was fundamental to their success last season, but has looked a shadow of his former self this season, missing a number of games. After 40 Real Madrid fixtures last season, he had 30 direct goal contributions, which is down to 18 this season.
Having missed training for the last three days, there were questions over his fitness, and Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed he will miss the Espanyol game.
“He has had a blow to the ankle and it has swollen. He has started training individually today and will be available for the match against Liverpool.”
He was then asked about the impact of regularly missing his star striker.
“It is inevitable that it affects because Karim is a very important footballer. He has not yet reached the level of last season, but I think that we solved it well in the first round. He will be important until the end of the season. We are confident that he will help… and tomorrow is something that can happen to a footballer. He has a blow and can’t start.”
“We are analysing him over the course of these days to put him in so that he arrives in optimal condition for Wednesday”
He was clear with how Los Blancos would be substituting his absence against Espanyol.
“Tomorrow Rodrygo will be the centre-forward.”
“He has to play where the team needs him. Sometimes it’s better to put his quality out wide, other times it’s better between the lines. It depends. He’s very good, we have to take advantage of it.”
There have been reports that Ancelotti is not best-pleased with the medical staff at Real Madrid, with several players suffering recurring issues this season. While it is no surprise that Benzema is having physical issues following on from his exertions last season, the continued problems the Frenchman has suffered can be added to those of David Alaba, Thibaut Courtois and Aurelien Tchouameni too.