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Benzema back! Real Madrid captain returns for Valladolid clash following eventful World Cup break

21:36 SAST 2022/12/30
Benzema Armband Madrid 22-23
After missing the last six weeks, Karim Benzema is returning to action against Real Valladolid, leading the line and captaining Real Madrid.
  • Striker returns to XI
  • Rumoured fallout with France federation
  • Five goals in La Liga this year

WHAT HAPPENED? Benzema missed six weeks with various injuries and a rumoured fallout with the French football association which culminated with his international retirement. But now, he's been fully cleared for action, and will feature from the start in Madrid's first league contest since the World Cup break.

The star striker rounds up a tweaked Madrid XI. Players who lasted deep into the World Cup - Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga - are on the bench. But Brazilian winger Vinicius Jr has retained his place after seeing his side exit the World Cup in the last eight.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It's been an odd few weeks for Benzema. He only played four minutes of football in November due to muscle fatigue, and then reportedly tore a muscle in his thigh in France training - ruling him out for the World Cup. But those around him insisted that the Frenchman could have represented the national team from the last 16 onwards - and rumours of a fallout with manager Didier Deschamps ran rampant. Regardless of the circumstances, he's now back on the pitch. The reigning Ballon D'Or holder has scored five goals in seven league appearances so far this campaign.

REAL MADRID STARTING XI VS VALLADOLID

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR BENZEMA? The striker will hope to work towards full fitness as Madrid's fixture list heats up.