Benzema to return for Madrid derby, says Zidane

AFP , Saturday 6 Mar 2021

Atletico will have Kieran Trippier back after he served his 10-week ban for breaking betting rules in England. Trippier was allowed to train during his suspension

Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema's return would be a huge boost to Real Madrid this weekend. Photo: AFP

Karim Benzema will be fit to play some part in Sunday's derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, Zinedine Zidane said on Friday.

Atletico could move eight points clear of their city rivals with a victory but Zidane and Atleti coach Diego Simeone insist the game will not be decisive in La Liga's title race.

Benzema has missed Real Madrid's last three matches with a groin injury but Zidane said the Frenchman will return at the Wanda Metropolitano, although would not say if he will start.

"We are happy to see him again with us. He will be with us and we'll see how it goes tomorrow," said Zidane in a press conference on Friday.

Benzema, who has scored 12 goals in La Liga this season, trained on Thursday and Friday ahead of the match.

"We are not going to risk anything," Zidane added. "If there is a doubt, I don't like it, because you can do more damage and the players that are going to play must always be 100 per cent."

Real Madrid have been unable to score more than once in any of their last three games without Benzema, despite creating plenty of chances in a 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad on Monday.

"We know what Karim is, it's not just about the goals," said Zidane. "Karim is a focal point so he is important in our system, especially when we have the ball."

The slip against Real Sociedad leaves Madrid five points behind Atletico, having played a game more, meaning defeat this weekend could give Zidane's side a huge gap to close.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, we will still be alive in La Liga," Zidane said.

"There will still be a lot of the league to play," added Simeone. "We will try to take the game where we think we can do the most damage."

Atletico will have Kieran Trippier back after he served his 10-week ban for breaking betting rules in England. Trippier was allowed to train during his suspension.

"He really wants to play," said Simeone. "He is very important to us, he has quality, precision, authority and he places a lot of value on possession of the ball in attack."

For Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos is missing with a knee injury while the back-up for Benzema, Mariano Diaz, is also out with a problem in his pelvis.

Eden Hazard is still nursing a thigh strain. "There hasn't been a set-back, we just want Eden at 100 per cent when he is back," said Zidane.

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