Karim Benzema injury update: How many matches will Real Madrid captain miss? – Sporting News

  • September 25, 2022

Real Madrid started their UEFA Champions League title defence with a win, but the 3-0 victory over Celtic on September 6 was soured by the sight of captain Karim Benzema forced off with injury.
The French forward was substituted after just 30 minutes in Glasgow to set alarm bells ringing.
Benzema, a strong favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year, was vital to Real Madrid’s successful 2021/22 season and ended the campaign with 44 goals to his name across all competitions.
His injury worry comes at a bad time for Carlo Ancelotti with his side poised to juggle a heavy schedule prior to the World Cup break. 
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Benzema left the Celtic match with visible pain in his right leg. Subsequent scans conducted by Real Madrid confirmed the extent of his injury. 
“Following tests carried out on our player Karim Benzema by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with an injury to the semitendinosus tendon and a strain to the quadricep muscle in his right thigh,” a club statement read. “His recovery will continue to be assessed.”
Speaking after the win over Celtic, Ancelotti looked to downplay the injury, but that was before any scans were done on the Frenchman. 
“We don’t think Benzema has a big problem. It’s muscular,” Ancelotti said. 
🔄 30′ | 0-0 | Substitution: @hazardeden10@Benzema #UCL pic.twitter.com/zvxwwypNtX
When confirming the extent of Benzema’s latest injury, Real Madrid declined to give any time frame for his potential return. Benzema missed the Sept. 11 win over Mallorca in La Liga, and the midweek Champions League victory over RB Leipzig.
It’s was initially thought that Benzema could return to the Madrid derby on September 18, with Spanish outlet A reporting that Benzema needed seven to 10 days of recovery time. Yet Mundo Deportivo reported on Friday that the Frenchman still has yet to return to Real Madrid training, and is unlikely to play this weekend.
Ancelotti made it clear that if Benzema is not ready to play a part in that big La Liga match, the striker would also skip out of international duty with France at the end of September, giving him additional rest.
In the interim, Ancelotti admitted there is no like-for-like replacement for Benzema on the squad “because he’s the best forward in the world.” Los Merengues will rely on Eden Hazard to replace him in the role of false nine, with Ancelotti labeling his performance against Celtic a positive one. 
“I’m not going to ask Hazard to score goals,” Ancelotti said. “I’m going to ask him to play well, like he did against Celtic, and to maintain a good attack-minded attitude. We don’t want to lose this run we’re on, combining well and having movement [in attack] … this shouldn’t change.”
Prior to coming off against Celtic, Benzema was the only player alongside Thibaut Courtois to have played every minute for Real Madrid this season. 
Los Blancos have historically struggled in La Liga without Benzema.
Since 2018, the club’s win percentage with Benzema in the league sits at 67.8 percent and drops to 38.5 percent without him. Their goals scored each game also sinks from 1.9 to 1.0 without the French striker. 
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In the first game without Benzema, Carlo Ancelotti selected Eden Hazard to play a false nine role up front, but that was ineffective. Madrid won that match 4-1, but only was able to turn the tide once Luka Modric came off the bench to pull the strings.
Against RB Leipzig, Ancelotti opted to place Rodrygo in a central role up front, to much greater success. While Los Blancos didn’t score their two goals until the final 10 minutes of the match, Rodrygo was dangerous and created a number of chances.
In the Madrid derby, it’s unclear who Ancelotti will turn to. He has natural striker Mariano Diaz at his disposal, but the 29-year-old has been mostly ineffective during his sparse Real Madrid time. Marco Asensio is another player who, like Eden Hazard, may be able to play the false nine role.
One player who has stood out in Benzema’s absence is Federico Valverde, helping to pick up the goalscoring slack for Real Madrid.
Benzema is no stranger to injuries and continues to wear a bandage on his right hand due to a broken pinky finger that still requires surgery
The 34-year-old missed six games for Real Madrid last season due to injuries.
Hamstrings have been a common area of injury for Benzema over the years, with the Frenchman sidelined four times specifically as a result. 
Benzema’s longest injury absence came in October 2015 when he was ruled out for 39 days as a result of a thigh muscle strain.