Ancelotti defends Benzema for not playing ahead of World Cup

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema kicks the ball during the Champions League Group F soccer match between Real Madrid and Celtic at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema kicks the ball during the Champions League Group F soccer match between Real Madrid and Celtic at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

PA

Carlo Ancelotti has defended Karim Benzema from accusations that he won’t play with Real Madrid to be ready for the World Cup, saying on Wednesday that the French striker himself was upset with his lack of minutes before Qatar.

Benzema, 34, who suffers from muscle fatigue, will miss his sixth consecutive start when Madrid host Cadiz in the Spanish league on Thursday. This will be the club’s last game before the World Cup break.

Ancelotti said it was ‘stupid’ for people to say Benzema was trying to save himself for the France team.

“It’s a small illness, and Karim tried to recover from it,” said the Madrid coach. “He’s the first to be frustrated by the situation, because he’s going into the World Cup without the minutes he would have needed to be in better condition.”

Since winning the Ballon d’Or for best player of the year three weeks ago, Benzema has missed matches against Sevilla, Leipzig, Girona and Rayo Vallecano. He played less than 30 minutes after coming off the bench in a 5-1 loss to Celtic in the Champions League group stage this month. His most recent start came in a 3-0 win at Elche in the Spanish league on October 19, when he scored his final goal.

“The only thing that bothers me is that Karim was unable to help the team with his quality,” Ancelotti said.

Benzema is expected to be back at the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament in Russia. French coach Didier Deschamps will announce the team that will try to defend the World Cup title in Qatar on Wednesday.

Ancelotti also defended Vinícius Júnior from accusations that he provoked other players too much in recent games.

“Vini is the player who receives the most fouls, the most touches, the most pushes,” Ancelotti said of the striker who will be with Brazil at the World Cup.

Madrid must beat relegation-threatened Cadiz to enter the World Cup break within three points of Spanish league leaders Barcelona, ​​who came from behind to win 2-1 at Osasuna on Tuesday.

Madrid are the defending champions of the Spanish league and the Champions League.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Azzoni Tales on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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