Real Madrid injury crisis deepens as Benzema fractures finger
Karim Benzema has become the seventh senior Real Madrid player unavailable for Saturday's meeting against third place Sevilla at the Bernabeu after he was ruled out with a fractured finger.
Benzema fell awkwardly in a challenge with defender Marc Bartra just before half time in Sunday's 2-1 La Liga win at Real Betis, and was replaced at the break by Castilla forward Cristo Gonzalez who made his La Liga debut.
Madrid later confirmed the injury to the little finger on the 31-year-old's right hand, without giving any indication when he would be available to return.
"After the tests carried out on our player Karim Benzema by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with a fracture in the phalanx of the fifth finger in the right hand," a statement read. "The player's situation will continue to be monitored."
The difficult injury situation comes as Madrid have nine games in the next month, running up to a La Liga clash with Atletico Madrid on Feb. 9 or 10 and the Champions League round of 16 first leg at Ajax on Feb. 13.
Madrid coach Santiago Solari is also without Gareth Bale [calf muscle], Toni Kroos [abductor], Marco Asensio [thigh], Marcos Llorente [abductor], Thibaut Courtois [pelvic], although Mariano Diaz has returned to training and could feature in Wednesday's Copa del Rey round of 16 second leg at Leganes.
Madrid were missing seven players through injury and suspension for the trip to Betis on Sunday, meaning that five players in their first La Liga seasons, either started or came off the bench.
"The most important is the three points to keep making up ground on the teams ahead of us," Solari said in the postmatch news conference. "This year the kids are needed in the squad.
"We had many, very young players on the pitch today -- Fede Valverde , Vinicius Junior , Brahim Diaz , Sergio Reguilon , Cristo Gonzalez . That is part of our job this year, to bring through many young players into this team of the stars. And good news for the club for sure."
Solari said there was no issue with club vice-captain Marcelo and Spain international Isco despite neither featuring amid the injury crisis.
"We are who we are and today I want to focus on the serious game we played," he said. "There is nothing personal involved.
"We all do our best -- the coaches too. They can all play, they are all part of the squad."
Meanwhile, Santos have sent a formal request to Real Madrid asking for Brazilian wonderkid Rodrygo's move to the Spanish giants to be delayed until December.
The 18-year-old forward signed for Madrid last summer in a €45 million transfer and is supposed to link up with the three-time defending champions of Europe in July.
"We have already asked Real Madrid, it's [request] in motion and we are waiting to see what their thoughts are," said Santos president Jose Carlos Peres, as reported in Lance newspaper when asked about the possibility of Rodrygo remaining until December.
"It's still a bit early but we are doing it [now] as a precaution."
ESPN FC's Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.