La Liga 2016-17: Karim Benzema, Casemiro and Pepe face late fitness test ahead of Madrid derby
Real Madrid’s previously injured players Karim Benzema, Casemiro and Pepe are touch and go to start the Madrid derby this weekend in La Liga. According to reports from Spanish paper AS, the trio will face late fitness tests today in order to be deemed fit to star the derby game on Saturday.
The three players trained separately on Wednesday and it is fairly certain that if they are called upon to start against Atletico come Saturday, then they will not be playing at 100%.
Due to Alvaro Morata’s injury against Macedonia, where he suffered a Grade II hamstring pull to his right hamstring, he might not be able to take part for Los Blancos in the Madrid derby. Hence, Karim Benzema will most likely be played by Zinedine Zidane, although he might not be fully fit.
It is still unclear whether Morata will be able to make it to the derby, meaning Benzema might be risked for the match. A less likely option is Mariano who is the only other out and out centre-forward but he has started only one game so far i.e the Copa Del Rey clash against Cultural Leonesa.
While there is enough cover available for Casemiro and Pepe, Zidane will certainly want both of them available for selection if they are able to get fully fit, considering this is his first real test of the season, and that too against crosstown rivals Atletico.
There was also some slight doubt over the fitness of Atletico starlet Antoine Greizmann who picked up a knock on his left foot on International duty for France. He was sent home early but he is reportedly making significant progress from the knock and has responded to rehabilitation very well.
Griezmann has been working with Atletico fitness coach Oscar Pitillas and has shown no signs of problems while attempting a series of sprints and twists and turns which are all indications of him getting much closer to starting for Atletico against Real.
The much awaited Madrid derby will certainly be a feisty affair with both clubs looking to gain supremacy in La Liga and out-do each other in the game. This has been Atletico’s worst start under Diego Simeone and they will be looking to change that come Saturday at the Estadio Vincente Calderon.
Real Madrid will also be looking to go one up over Atletico in Zinedine Zidane’s first crunch tie of the season. All eyes will be on the Vincente Calderon as to how the battle of both the Madrid-based pans out this weekend.