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Karim Benzema trains individually ahead of El Clasico

Real Madrid talisman Karim Benzema skipped the team’s group training session on Friday ahead of the weekend’s crunch La Liga meeting with Barcelona, according to Sport.

The former France international picked up a knock during Los Merengues’ 1-0 home win over Liverpool in midweek Champions League action.

Although the prolific marksman played down fans’ fears over the possibility of him missing out on Madrid’s season-defining trip to the Spotify Camp Nou, he trained separately on Friday.

While the rest of Carlo Ancelotti’s squad performed a regular drill on the training ground, the current Ballon d’Or holder stayed in the gym to work on recovery.

Benzema has endured an injury-hit start to the new calendar year, having missed out on three of Los Blancos’ last six La Liga matches due to various fitness problems.

The 35-year-old was on the sidelines as Ancelotti’s men came from behind to defeat Barcelona’s cross-city rivals Espanyol 3-1 at home last time out, maintaining a nine-point deficit on Xavi Hernandez’s team.

However, given the importance of Sunday’s encounter, Madrid will need all the help they can get to whittle down a substantial gap on the Catalan powerhouse.

The reigning La Liga champions steamrolled to a 3-1 home win over the Blaugrana in the reverse fixture in October, with Benzema breaking the deadlock with a classy finish.

But they have lost both competitive meetings with Barcelona in 2023, going down 3-1 in January’s Supercopa de Espana grand final before losing the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie at home in March.

Benzema was in the starting line-up in both matches, yet while scoring a consolation goal in the Saudi Arabia-held showpiece, he drew a blank in the cup game earlier this month.

Madrid will need their star striker at his best to become the first side to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou in La Liga this season.

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