Real Madrid will have to take the field without their ace striker Karim Benzema when they face Barcelona in El Clasico this weekend.

Real Madrid will play hosts to bitter rivals Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday for the final El Clasico of the 2021/22 campaign. And leading up to the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti has been handed a double injury blow.

Star striker and leading goalscorer Karim Benzema has been ruled out with a leg injury for Real Madrid, while left-back Ferland Mendy is also sidelined. Confirming the same during his pre-match presser, Ancelotti said, “Benzema and Mendy won’t be involved tomorrow, and they’ll stay here with us. They’ll start working with us next week.”

Real Madrid vs Barcelona Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

“We’ve never taken any risks, and that applies to the PSG game. Benzema won’t play tomorrow because he hasn’t trained yet, he’s feeling a bit of discomfort, it’s a small one, but it’s preventing him from training and, obviously playing.”

Real Madrid boss Ancelotti will be forced into making changes to the lineup that started against RCD Mallorca last time out. Eder Militao, who was benched for that clash, should return to the lineup, partnering David Alaba in central defence. Nacho will move into the left-back slot in the absence of Mendy, while Dani Carvajal is expected to replace Lucas Vazquez at right-back. Thibaut Courtois will start in goal.

Moving into the middle of the park, Luka Modric, who was rested against Mallorca, should come back into the starting XI for the encounter against Barcelona. The Real Madrid veteran will be partnered with Casemiro and Toni Kroos in central midfield, with Ancelotti likely to back their experience over the energy and exuberance of Federico Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga.

Vinicius Junior is a certainty to feature out on the left flank and will have added responsibility on his shoulders in the absence of Karim Benzema. 

As for the Frenchman’s replacement in the No. 9 role, Ancelotti refused to give much away in his press conference, saying, “We’ve got options because we’ve got Mariano, Jovic, and I’ve also played Isco there and Rodrygo too. We have a lot of options, but I’ve picked the one I think is best suited to this game.”

Rodrygo is likely to be utilised in the right flank as his work rate will be handy to provide defensive support to Dani Carvajal against the dual threat of Ferran Torres and Jordi Alba. Given that Mariano, Luka Jovic and Isco have hardly played in recent times, Ancelotti could lean towards deploying Marco Asensio in the false-nine role in the absence of Benzema.

Real Madrid Predicted XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Nacho, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Rodrygo, Asensio, Vinicius Jr.

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