Benzema back & rest Vinicius Jr? Ancelotti faces Real Madrid selection poser in Champions League

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Karim Benzema Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2022-23
Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed that Karim Benzema is back for Real Madrid, but he is considering handing Vinicius Junior a well-earned rest.
  • French striker has shaken off knock
  • Brazilian forward could do with a break
  • Clasico clash to come on Sunday

WHAT HAPPENED? The Blancos will be in Champions League group stage action against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, with maximum points taken from three games in continental competition so far this season. The reigning kings of European football can afford to rotate in their latest outing, with talismanic captain Benzema ready to return from a slight knock as Brazilian forward Vinicius potentially heads to the bench.

WHAT THEY SAID: Ancelotti has said of the selection poser he faces: “Vini is one of the players I have to evaluate because he's always played. We have to evaluate him. Karim is fine and it is clear that he will start, like [Toni] Kroos and [Ferland] Mendy, who are fresh and will play.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Benzema, who netted 44 times in all competitions last season, has gone four games without a goal, while Vinicius has already taken in 16 appearances for club and country in 2022-23 and could do with a break. While decisions have to be made on their involvement against Shakhtar, first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will not be risked ahead of a Clasico clash with Barcelona at the weekend, with Ancelotti saying: “Courtois is much better. The plan is for him to start training on Thursday and be ready for Sunday. We have spoken to him and he is much better.”

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Karim Benzema Real Madrid 2022-23

Vinicius Junior Real Madrid 2022-23

Carlo Ancelotti 2022-23

WHAT NEXT? Real will be playing host to arch-rivals Barca at Santiago Bernabeu in their next La Liga outing, with both sides boasting unbeaten records in the Spanish top-flight as they sit locked together on 22 points from eight games.