Real Madrid must rest Karim Benzema against Athletic Bilbao

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid‘s deepest nightmares were realized when Karim Benzema hobbled off with an injury scare in their match against Elche at the Santiago Bernabeu. Already 1-0 down at halftime, the last thing Real Madrid wanted was to see Benzema going off injured in the 58th minute. Eventually, the team came from behind to score late goals, courtesy of Luka Modric and Eder Militao, to settle for a 2-2 draw.

The injury comes at the worst possible time since Real Madrid is about to enter the business end of the season with all three trophies in sight. Losing Benzema at such a crucial juncture would be catastrophic. Thankfully we have an international break on our hands which would allow Benzema to recuperate.

Initial medical tests suggest it was possibly just a minor muscle cramp rather than a tear. Benzema is at a stage in his career where he knows his body better than anyone else. He comes off even at the slightest sign of discomfort as he is aware of his importance to the team over the course of an entire season. There have been prior cases where he had managed to recover in time for the important games.

Take, for instance, he went off injured against Real Sociedad this season with doubts over his participation in the Madrid derby the following weekend. However, he managed to recover and even scored a goal in the first half. Therefore his participation against Athletic is not yet ruled out.

Real Madrid must be cautious with Karim Benzema

However, Real Madrid must err on the side of caution this time around. Rushing him back from the injury should be avoided at all costs. He is the lynchpin of the attack. Without Karim Benzema, the attack looks dysfunctional most of the time. Real Madrid has an all-important clash away at PSG in the Champions League round of 16 coming up soon.

Not suggesting that Copa is not an important trophy to win, however, the priority must be to give their talisman enough time to be fully fit before that game.  Moreover, Real Madrid has a tough away league fixture against Villarreal the weekend before the PSG clash. Karim Benzema’s presence is paramount for both these matches.

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Benzema has already played 35 games-28 for Real Madrid and 7 for France and accumulated 2,359 minutes. In contrast, Luka Jovic has played 432 minutes and Mariano just 178 minutes. Benzema has had little rest. This is probably the major reason for his muscle overload injuries. Real Madrid cannot solve the issue of overdependency on Benzema all of a sudden. The best they can do is give Benzema enough time to heal and rest him against the Athletic Club.