Benitez leaves Benzema out of Real Madrid squad

The French attacker is facing charges of conspiring to blackmail team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape but the Spanish coach insists he will sit out Sunday’s game due to in…

Rafael Benitez has left Karim Benzema out of the Real Madrid team for Sunday’s match against Sevilla, insisting it is because of the striker’s fitness.

Benzema has been charged with conspiracy to blackmail, having been caught up in a scandal surrounding a sex tape involving France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

After a bright start to the season in which he scored six goals in as many Liga games, Benzema has been out of action since early October through injury.

Benitez says the forward is nearing a return, but will not make the trip to face Unai Emery’s men because he is not at 100 per cent.

“Benzema is in the final part of his recovery and we have decided to leave him in Madrid so that he is 100%,” he told reporters.

“He trained and he did the work that he had to do.

“The biggest concern that I have is how my team is ahead of the Sevilla match.”

The Spanish coach is happy to welcome James Rodriguez back into the team, who is ready to return to first team action following his recovery from an injury, and insists star forward Cristiano Ronaldo is happy and in good shape,

“For me, the important thing is that James returns well and that he is fundamental for the rest of the season.

“I have seen a happy team that has trained well, especially today, and a happy, goalscoring Ronaldo.

“Sevilla have a great coach, great supporters and a very complete team. They have experience and quality. 

“It’s not going to be an easy match, so we must be focused.”

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