Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez said on Sunday that striker Karim Benzema was his only injury doubt as his side prepare to face Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup on Monday.
The French international is still recovering from tearing a thigh muscle at the end of last season and was substituted at half-time on Friday as Real romped past Manchester City 4-1 in Melbourne.
“The only slight worry is Benzema. He has a slight tweak, nothing serious, but we will take no risks” said Benitez.
“We will decide tomorrow whether he plays. If we think there is any problem we will take no chances,” added the Spaniard at a news conference after his side trained at Guangzhou’s 54,000-capacity Tianhe stadium in fierce heat and humidity on Sunday night.
Benitez, who only took the reins at the Santiago Bernabeu in June following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, said he was delighted overall with how his squad are shaping up with their fitness and conditioning as they zero in on the new season which begins next month.
“We are where we wanted to be at this stage. The training sessions in Australia have been fantastic,” Benitez told AFP.
“The boys have trained really well, very good, high intensity. Up till now I think we are fine, but we will only see for sure when the season begins.”
The Spanish giants arrived in the southern Chinese metropolis only on Saturday night to continue their whirlwind pre-season schedule which has also seen them play AS Roma in Australia in the past eight days.
After Inter on Monday they face AC Milan in the eastern mega-city of Shanghai on Thursday after two weeks of training and four matches in Australia and Asia.
This is Real’s fourth visit to China but their first since 2011, making it a new experience for many of their players who got first taste of the frenzied appetite for football here.
Thousands of fans clad in the famous white shirt mobbed a Guangzhou city centre autograph session on Sunday bringing traffic to a standstill.
There were similar scenes as the team trained at Tianhe stadium, home of Guangzhou Evergrande FC, with around a thousand fans managing to get in to watch the session from the stands with hundreds more trying — and failing — to gain entry.
Novel attempts included brandishing home-made media passes and trying to sneak in with club officials.
“We are pretty pleased with the welcome,” said Benitez.
“You can feel the adulation of the fans for the players. It’s very special to see all the support for Real Madrid. It is massive here.”
Opponents Inter Milan will on Monday against Real conclude their three-match China tour that has seen them lose 1-0 twice already, to Bayern Munich in Shanghai as well as against AC Milan in nearby Shenzhen on Saturday.