Real Madrid

Karim Benzema expecting to return for Madrid derby

Tom Gott
Benzema hopes to be back to face Atleti
Benzema hopes to be back to face Atleti / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages
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Karim Benzema is expected to recover from his hamstring injury in time to face Atletico Madrid in Sunday's derby.

The Frenchman managed just 17 minutes of the 2-0 win over Real Sociedad before limping off with the injury, which kept him out of the 2-0 victory over Inter in midweek.

Real have coped well enough without Benzema, with stand-in Luka Jovic pulling a surprising amount of weight, but getting their top scorer back for one of the biggest matches of the season was always the goal.

According to Sergio Quirante, Benzema has done enough to prove his fitness and has made it clear to the club's medical staff that he would be comfortable starting Sunday's game.

It's suggested that this is more Benzema's decision than anyone else's, with the striker seemingly determined to make it back at all costs. As a veteran of the game, his opinion is obviously valid, but there is also some hesitance to fling him back into the starting lineup.

As of now, Benzema continues to train alone, with his focus more on fitness than anything else, but the hope is that he will be back with the rest of the group on Saturday.

If Benzema does not make it back in time, manager Carlo Ancelotti is prepared to give Jovic the nod, having been impressed with the Serbia international in Benzema's absence.

Ancelotti is obviously aware of Benzema's importance to the squad, but with young winger Vinicius Junior now banging in goals for fun, the feeling is that Real will still pose a threat even if the soon-to-be 34-year-old doesn't make it back in time.

Benzema's fitness is Ancelotti's only real concern heading into the game. Midfielder Dani Ceballos remains out, while winger Gareth Bale is dealing with a calf injury that is expected to keep him out of this one too, but neither of those absences will have much of an impact on Ancelotti's plans.

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