Benzema fit to play for Real in Madrid derby
Real Madrid will be able to count on Karim Benzema for the Madrid derby at Atletico tourday.
Coach Zinedine Zidane picked the France striker for the Spanish league match at Vicente Calderon Stadium, but he didn't reveal if he will start Benzema or place him in the reserves.
"He is better, and if he is on the squad then he can play," Zidane said yesterday.
Benzema was in doubt because of a lingering hip problem. He has five goals in 13 appearances this season.
While forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are also ready to play, Zidane will be without his other pure striker Alvaro Morata, who injured a hamstring while playing for Spain over the international break.
Atletico, meanwhile, is hoping star forward Antoine Griezmann will be fit after hurting his left foot while playing for France.
"He trained normally yesterday," Atletico manager Diego Simeone said about Griezmann.
"He is trying very hard to be ready for the match. I hope he trains well in the last practice session and can make our squad."
Griezmann has scored eight goals for Atletico this season and, if fit, should join Yannick Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro in attack.
Once the capital's dominant team, Madrid hasn't beaten Atletico in six consecutive league derbies, although it has topped its cross-town rival in two Champions League finals during that stretch.
Zidane gave credit to Simeone for revamping Atletico since his arrival midway through the 2011-12 season.
"Atletico gets better year after year," Zidane said.
"It has a coach that has changed so many things. He is doing a phenomenal job. Everybody always says Atletico defends well, but it is so much more than that." Madrid is also in fine form. Madrid's defeat to Atletico last February marked the start of a remarkable run for Zidane's side, which hasn't lost in the league since — a run of 23 matches.
Besides Benzema, Madrid will also have back Sergio Ramos and Luca Modric after both recovered from knee problems, although Modric will be without fellow midfielders Toni Kroos and Casemiro due to injuries.
Atletico has most of its midfielders, led by playmaker Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, to choose from.