Benzema will miss the Cup game against Bilbao
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema will miss Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarter-final against Athletic Bilbao as he continues to recover from a leg injury, the club announced on Wednesday.
Benzema’s participation was in doubt after coach Carlo Ancelotti said earlier on Wednesday that he was still undecided over the French striker’s willingness to return after being forced off early in the second half of a LaLiga match against Elche in January.
“We won’t take any risks. He was training separately from the group, we feel good and he will join his teammates today, so we will see,” Ancelotti told a press conference, hours before announcing that Benzema would. be excluded from the team that will travel to Bilbao.
With just two weeks to go before the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 against Paris St Germain, Ancelotti added: “We are not going to put him in danger of (suffering a) relapse. He knows that. If he don’t play him, it’s because we want him to recover. If he’s fine, he’ll travel, if not, he’ll stay at home.”
Ancelotti can however count on Casemiro, Vinicius Jr, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde, the South American players of the team, for the draw after their return from international mission.
“Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo…will be fine…because they are 21 and not 60 like me,” Ancelotti said with a laugh.
“We will assess whether we will use them from the start, but if they are just tired they will play.”
With Thursday’s showdown being the clubs’ fourth meeting in two months in all competitions, Real will be eager to continue their winning streak after winning the previous three encounters.
“Nothing changes. It’s a very important game for us in a competition that we enjoy very much and the environment in Bilbao will be extraordinary. We will have to be at our best,” added Ancelotti.