"Every match is a final" is the prevailing philosophy at Real Madrid, and it rings true especially this weekend when they face reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, Los Blancos may be left without the services of their star striker Karim Benzema for the all-important Madrid Derby.

Last weekend, Benzema limped off in the 17th minute of Real Madrid's La Liga clash against Real Sociedad. Even though it is believed to be a minor knock, the Frenchman sat out the final group stage match in the UEFA Champions League against Italian champions Inter Milan on Tuesday.

Real Madrid won both matches fairly comfortably, but they would want to come with all guns blazing when they face their city rivals. Not only is it important to win over the defending champions, the three points from this clash will help them maintain a comfortable gap at the top of the La Liga table. As it stands, they hold an eight point advantage over Sevilla in second place.

Atletico are currently ten points behind, but with a game in hand. Needless to say, a victory for Diego Simeone's men will give them the opportunity to close up the gap by as much as 6 points if they also win their next match.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Benzema is already back in the gym. However, more tests will be conducted on Thursday and Friday to determine if he will be fit enough to start on Sunday. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will proceed with caution, knowing that there is still a long way to go in the season. He does not want to risk putting the league's current top scorer in the sidelines for a longer period due to an exacerbated injury.

Fortunately for Los Blancos, Luka Jovic had a brilliant evening against Real Sociedad when he came in to replace the injured Frenchman. The Serb had previously been languishing in the Real Madrid bench, with many having written him off from the squad already. However, a goal and an assist over the weekend brought the bounce back in his step, and his appearance in the Champions League against Inter was another positive sign for Ancelotti.

Despite the importance of the Madrid Derby, Jovic has now proven that he can be relied upon if Benzema needs more time to recover. It may be wise to take that route, knowing that the club may need all of their best players fully fit in the final stretch of the season where they could be fighting for trophies.

Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema scores for Real Madrid AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU