Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is on track to return to action from a hip problem in the Madrid derby on 27 February, reports say. Benzema, 28, picked up the injury during training on 20 February and sat out Real's 1-1 draw against Malaga at La Rosaleda last weekend.

Spanish daily AS said the France striker was expected to recover in time for the crucial clash against Atletico Madrid, even though he did not take part in the training on 24 February. The paper also reported that Gareth Bale and Pepe will miss the Madrid derby due to calf and foot injuries respectively.

Real struggled in Benzema's absence against Malaga, with his replacement Jese failing to trouble the Andalusian side's defence. The Frenchman has scored 19 goals in as many league games for Real this season.

Title race

Real are nine points behind Barcelona in La Liga but could leapfrog second-placed Atletico by beating them at the Santiago Bernabeu on 27 February. Zidane denied that his team were out of the title race after the Malaga result.

"You might think La Liga is over but I do not, and the players do not either," the 43-year-old was quoted as saying by ESPN.

Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane\'s Real Madrid are nine points behind Barcelona in La Liga Getty Images

"It will be more difficult, as today we have lost two points but we will never drop our hands. There are lots of points still to play for, so we will keep going. There are different moments in the season, and there is a long way to go in La Liga. Other teams can also drop points. But I do not think about other teams.

"I think we must keep going, whatever happens. We have prepared well this week but I have to do my analysis of both my players and my own work."

Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid have won just two of their last eight competitive fixtures and were held to a goalless draw at PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League round of 16 first leg on 24 February.