Saturday, July 2, 2022

Benzema in Real Madrid contention for PSG clash after injury lay-off

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 13 Feb 2022

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Karim Benzema trained with Real Madrid on Sunday and could make a dramatic return in the Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

The France international, who is one of Madrid’s club captains, has been absent since suffering a hamstring injury on January 23 against Elche.

However, he has been named in Carlo Ancelotti’s 26-man squad for the trip to Paris, where the first leg of the last-16 tie takes place on Tuesday.

Benzema has scored 24 times for Madrid already in 2021-22, and without him the goals have dried up.

The team have managed just one goal in their three full games since Benzema joined the injured list, drawing a blank most recently on Sunday as they drew 0-0 at Villarreal.

Gareth Bale was deployed as a central striker in that game, and after a slow start he became the chief attacking threat, having a game-high six shots and drawing three fine saves from goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

That came as a pleasant surprise to Ancelotti, who nonetheless indicated Bale was only one of several options for the role against PSG, and he remained hopeful Benzema could be involved.

The fact Madrid were able to send 34-year-old Benzema onto the training pitch with team-mates on Sunday augured well for his prospects, and Ancelotti will now closely monitor the former Lyon frontman ahead of the game at the Parc des Princes.

Speaking on Friday, Ancelotti had been positive about Benzema’s prospects, although the fact he played no part against Villarreal indicated Madrid are being ultra careful about his fitness.

Ancelotti said on Friday: “We have good feelings, he is having good feelings. The most important thing is the player’s health. If there is a risk, we are not going to take it. We have to evaluate but if he plays on Tuesday, it is because there is no risk.”

The match offers the tantalising possibility of Benzema and France team-mate Kylian Mbappe leading the respective attacks.

Mbappe is a known transfer target for Madrid, who failed with a big-money move for the PSG forward in August but could land him on a free transfer at the end of this season, meaning he and Benzema may soon be club-mates as well as colleagues with Les Bleus.

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