Karim Benzema
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has been out of action for more than a month due to a hamstring problemReuters

Karim Benzema's participation in Real Madrid's top-of-the-table showdown with Barcelona this weekend has been thrown into doubt after the France international pulled out of first team training on 17 November. Benzema, 27, has not played since suffering a hamstring injury while on international duty in early October.

A statement on Real's website said the France striker withdrew from training with the first team to continue his work alone indoors, four days before the capital club face Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Spanish daily Marca reported that Benzema pulled out of the session after feeling "minor discomfort" in his leg, but that the setback had not endangered his participation in the match.

"The squad went through their paces for the second time this week... in a session conducted without the players still due to feature for their countries this international break," the Real statement read.

"Karim Benzema completed the first part of the practice with the group, before doing work indoors."

Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas is also doubtful to feature as he continues his recovery from a muscle strain.

Clamour for attacking football

Meanwhile, Marca claimed Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo had spoken to Benitez and tried to persuade him to adopt a more attacking approach against Barcelona.

Keylor Navas
Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas is racing to recover from a muscle strainReuters

The former Liverpool boss has come under further pressure from the Spanish press for a perceived conservative approach after Real were beaten 3-2 by Sevilla in their last La Liga match.

But former Manchester United striker Terry Gibson believes accusing Benitez of negative football is unfair, pointing to the number of injuries he has had to contend with during his short time in the Real dugout.

"I don't see any clear evidence of this supposedly defensive system," Gibson told Sky Sports.

"It's been backed up by them not conceding as many goals, I think they've defended well and been backed up by a goalkeeper who has been fantastic but they still have the required amount of attempts at goal.

"When all the injured players are back, then will be the time to fairly criticise or not criticise Rafa Benitez because they are only a certain amount of things you can criticise a manager for," Gibson said.