Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo Getty

Real Madrid continued their preparations for the highly-expected visit of Barcelona on Saturday [23 December] without Cristiano Ronaldo as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner missed Los Blancos' training session for the second day in a row.

Long-term injury casualty Luca Zidane also remains on the sidelines but Zinedine Zidane saw Karim Benzema return for Wednesday's workout [20 December] after the France striker missed training on Tuesday.

Ronaldo has endured a slow start to the campaign but he looked back to his best during the Fifa Club World Cup played last week in Abu Dhabi.

The Portugal international scored a goal in the Wednesday's semi-final against Al Jazira before netting a free-kick in the 1-0 victory over Gremio on Saturday [16 December] to lead Real to their sixth World Cup title.

Ronaldo played the full 90 minutes in both games and appeared to arrive in his best moment of the campaign for the first El Clasico of La Liga against Barcelona.

However, Real informed on Tuesday that the Portugal international and Benzema didn't train when Los Blancos began their preparations for the visit of Barcelona after enjoying a day off on Monday.

His absence seemed only a precaution as it has been usual in recent times to see the 32-year-old forward working on his own in the gym in order to manage his fitness.

But Los Blancos fans are starting to worry after Real informed that Ronaldo missed Wednesday's training session, just three days before the crucial visit of Barcelona.

Benzema, however, returned to training and should be fully fit to start when the Catalans visit the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

"Real Madrid were in training again as they continue to prepare for El Clásico. The Whites continued to fine tune details ahead of Saturday's game against Barcelona (1pm CET), where they will look to end the five-title winning year with a victory in front of their fans. Zidane called up academy players Tejero, Moha and Altube for the session," the Spaniards informed in their club website.

"The main focus of the session was ball work at a high intensity. Benzema joined the group as they carried out different possession and pressing exercises and played several matches in small spaces. Cristiano Ronaldo worked separately from the group, while Luca also trained alone out on the pitch as he continues his recovery process."

Meanwhile, captain Sergio Ramos has admitted that a defeat in El Clasico could virtually end Los Blancos' hopes of reclaiming the La Liga title, with Real currently 11 points behind Barcelona with a game in hand.

"We come into the game in good form after winning the Club World Cup, which has done the team's morale a world of good. We're looking forward to the game and are working hard this week to try and get the three points that would keep us right up there at the top of the table," Ramos said.

"It's a really big one, no words can do it justice. It's a different sort of game. It's the most important match in world football, and given the points difference ahead of kick-off, we've got to win it to keep ourselves in the hunt in La Liga".