Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday confirmed that star striker Karim Benzema will miss the upcoming El Clasico in the La Liga on Sunday due to injury.

The 34-year-old striker, who had been a doubt for the fixture all week missed training on Saturday due to a calf injury, thereby ruling him out of Sunday’s match against a resurgent Barcelona. Along with Benzema, Madrid left-back Ferland Mendy will also be unavailable, Ancelotti confirmed.

“Benzema and Mendy won’t be here tomorrow and they’ll stay next week working with us,” the 62-year-old Italian manager told reports during the pre-match conference on Saturday.

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“We’re not going to risk it. He can’t play tomorrow, he hasn’t trained. He has discomfort and can’t train or play,” added Ancelotti, explaining why his top scorer was being left out of one of the most important fixtures of the season.

“We can beat Barça without Benzema. He is a very important part, he is a great finisher. We have to look for different solutions in attack without Karim. Bale is an alternative to Benzema, like Mariano, Jovic, Isco, Rodrygo. There are many options but I will choose the one I think is best for this match,” the Real Madrid manager said.

However, Ancelotti insisted that Benzema missing the El Clasico to recover from his injury was a good thing, as it would mean that the ageing striker would be ready for the business end of the season.

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“I’m not worried about Benzema. He’s 34 so he has suffered small problems this season but he has always returned stronger. He will recover next week and he will be ready for the most important part of the season,” the Italian explained.

Heading into tomorrow’s El Clasico, Real Madrid sit comfortably at the top of La Liga with 66 points from 28 games, and have an enormous 10 point lead over second-placed Sevilla.

Xavi’s resurgent Barcelona, meanwhile, are third with 51 points from 27 games.