Karim Benzema is “struggling” and has been ruled out of Real Madrid’s trip to Rayo Vallecano on Monday, which could prove a worrying sign for France ahead of the World Cup.
The Ballon d’Or winner returned from a short lay-off to feature as a substitute in Madrid’s 5-1 Champions League win against Celtic on Wednesday, but he is now back on the sidelines.
Benzema has been troubled by muscular fatigue in his left quadriceps and the 34-year-old remains not quite at ease, although Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti expects him to be available for their home game against Cadiz on Thursday.
Benzema joins defender Antonio Rudiger in missing Monday’s game, as Madrid seek a win that would take them back above Barcelona at the top of LaLiga.
Looking ahead to the trip to Vallecano, Ancelotti said on Sunday: “Karim won’t play because he’s not feeling right.
“It looked as though he was okay, but he’s struggling a bit and he won’t be available tomorrow. Against Cadiz I don’t think Rudiger will be back, but Karim should be.”
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Benzema has started just 11 games across all competitions this season, scoring six goals. He managed 44 goals in 46 games last term, enough to win the highly prized Ballon d’Or award, marking him out as the top performer in world football over the 2021-22 campaign.
“Karim’s lack of game-time has meant we have got to see other players with real quality, like [Federico] Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius [Junior],” said Ancelotti.
“We’ve coped well with Karim being out thanks to the quality of the other lads. When we come back after the World Cup, we’ll need Karim for the second part of the season.”
The Italian then sang the praises of Rodrygo, the 21-year-old Brazilian who has seven goals this season, saying he considers the youngster “more as a centre-forward than a wide man”.
Ancelotti was also asked about comparisons between Rodrygo and Brazil great Ronaldo, but says the 21-year-old benefits from the quality around him at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“Ronaldo wasn’t as fortunate as Rodrygo,” Ancelotti said. “Back then, Real Madrid weren’t as strong as they are now in the Champions League.
“Rodrygo can make the most of that. If he reaches Ronaldo’s levels on an individual basis, we’ll be building a statue to him.”