La Liga news

Benzema return provides Madrid boost

December 21, 2012
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent

Karim Benzema returns to the Real Madrid squad for Saturday's Primera Division trip to Malaga, but full-back Fabio Coentrao misses out with a muscle problem.

Karim Benzema Real Madrid celeb
GettyImagesKarim Benzema was injured during Real Madrid's Copa del Rey defeat to Celta Vigo last week

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Madrid boss Jose Mourinho will be happy to have Benzema back to lead his attack, but will likely bring in Nacho Fernandez, 22, or Ricardo Carvalho, 34, in a rejigged back line for the game against the in-form Andalucians, who sit just one place and five points behind Madrid in the table.

Another change to the team that disappointingly drew 2-2 with Espanyol at the Bernabeu last week could be Argentina winger Angel di Maria replacing Luka Modric in the starting XI.

Portugal centre-back Pepe is a slight doubt after training on the margins at Madrid's Valdebebas facility on Friday morning, however he is expected to start the game.

Young French defender Raphael Varane and forward Gonzalo Higuain continued their respective comebacks from injury at the session, but are not yet fit enough to be considered, while defenders Raul Albiol and Marcelo are also currently absent, with both expected to return early in the New Year.