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Benzema's World Cup fitness concern


Ancelotti is unconcerned about the fitness of his forward Karim Benzema before World Cup battle for France.

Carlo Ancelotti, manager of Real Madrid, has denied that Karim Benzema's ongoing fitness problems will affect his ability to perform at the World Cup, dismissing the notion that the France forward has been protecting himself ahead of the tournament by missing recent club games.

Benzema did not train with his Madrid teammates ahead of Thursday's LaLiga match against Cadiz at the Bernabeu.

The absence of the Ballon d'Or winner this month has coincided with a Madrid slump, with the club dropping points in a 1-1 home draw with Girona last week and a 3-2 loss at Rayo Vallecano on Monday, causing them to fall behind Barcelona in the title race.

"What bothers me is that Karim hasn't been able to help the team with his quality in these games," Ancelotti said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"He's tried, but he can't seem to shake this discomfort. It's not a lot. He tried to be available, but he couldn't."

Benzema missed a month earlier this season due to a hamstring injury and has only made one appearance in the last three weeks, coming on as a second-half substitute in Real Madrid's 5-1 Champions League group-stage win over Celtic, with the World Cup only 11 days away.

"Karim is the first to be disappointed," Ancelotti said, dismissing claims that Benzema was shielding himself as "stupid."

"He's going into a World Cup without the minutes he needs to stay in shape. He's had a problem; it's not serious; he's been working on his own; but his desire to play a game has been lacking. Karim is the most disappointed because he will play in the World Cup as the Ballon d'Or winner with few minutes in his legs."

Benzema's participation in the tournament, according to Ancelotti, has never been in doubt.

"The first injury [on Sept. 6] against Celtic was a significant injury," Ancelotti said. "He recovered, and the discomfort was minor. His World Cup is not in jeopardy, in my opinion."

Last season, Benzema scored 27 LaLiga goals and 15 Champions League goals to help Real Madrid win both competitions and win the Ballon d'Or.

After a six-year absence from international football, he is expected to lead the line for France at the World Cup in 2021.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m. GMT/2 p.m. ET, France coach Didier Deschamps will name his final squad for the tournament in Qatar.