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Real Madrid lose star player for Champions League trip

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
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The 13-time European champions have confirmed another injury setback ahead of the trip to Atalanta in Italy.

Karim Benzema will remain sidelined for the first leg of Real Madrid’s Champions League last-16 tie with Atalanta on Wednesday, having been left out of the 19-man squad set to travel to Bergamo.

Los Blancos’ top-scorer missed Saturday’s 1-0 win victory over Real Valladolid in La Liga due to an abductor injury. Therefore, Zinedine Zidane’s hopes of welcoming him back to the fold were low already.

The Real Madrid manager has now made a final decision on Benzema by excluding him from his 19-man squad. According to reports in Spain, the striker will instead focus on his recovery at the club’s facilities in Valdebebas.

He is the ninth first-team player to miss the trip to Atalanta following Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Fede Valverde, Rodrygo Goes, Alvaro Odriozola, and Eder Militao.

Five Castilla players in left-back Miguel Gutierrez, center-back Victor Chust, midfielders Sergio Arribas and Antonio Blanco, and striker Hugo Duro will provide cover.

Benzema has managed 17 goals and five assists in 28 appearances across all competitions this season. Casemiro is the Frenchman’s closest rival in the club scoring charts on six goals, with Luka Modric in third-place on four goals.