Karim Benzema will miss Sunday’s El Clasico showdown between Real Madrid and Barcelona due to a calf injury.
The attacker – who sustained an injury during Madrid’s 3-0 victory against Mallorca on Monday – was unable to practice with his teammates on Saturday, their final session before the high-profile match.
Benzema, 34, is LaLiga’s leading scorer with 22 goals and 11 assists, and his absence is a blow to Madrid’s title bid.
“We never take risks,” coach Carlo Ancelotti said in a news conference on Saturday.
“Tomorrow [Benzema] can’t play because he hasn’t trained, he feels some discomfort. It’s a small injury… [Gareth Bale] is one of the alternatives. We have Mariano [Diaz], we have [Luka] Jovic, I’ve played Isco and Rodrygo there too. There are a lot of options.”
“Karim is 34 years old, it can happen,” he added.
“It doesn’t worry me, we have two weeks now to work with him. We have time to get him ready for the end of the season, and he’ll come back and make the difference like always.”
Madrid enter El Clasico with a 15-point lead over Barcelona and have won their last five games in all competitions.