Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema is set for a spell on the sidelines. Getty


  • France boss addressed the media ahead of the the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 against Numancia.
  • Striker will miss the game after suffering a thigh injury during the last month's defeat to Barcelona

Karim Benzema will miss the first leg of the Copa del Rey last 16 against Numancia on Thursday [4 January] after the Real Madrid striker suffered an injury during the last month's 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in La Liga.

Manager Zinedine Zidane denied that his under-fire compatriot sustained the injury during his Christmas holidays and refused to rule out the potential arrival of new players during the current transfer window.

Benzema led Real's attack in El Clasico against Barcelona before being replaced by Nacho in the 66<sup>th minute of the game following Dani Carvajal's red card for handball.

The France striker hit the post in the first half but he was singled out for criticism after the humiliating defeat all-but killed Los Blancos' hopes of retaining the La Liga title, leaving them 14 points behind Barcelona with one game in hand.

It took a week for Real to confirm that Benzema had suffered a thigh injury but Zidane has confirmed that the Frenchman picked up the problem during El Clasico rather than while on holiday.

"I found out [about Benzema injury] after El Clasico. He picked up a niggle. I trust my players and that's it. It's not nice to see a footballer injured. It was after El Clasico, not before. Those who say it was before are lying. He went on holiday and did what he had to do but he's still not right," the Real boss said during the press conference ahead of the Copa del Rey clash with Numancia.

"He's was injured when he went away. He picked it up during El Clasico but we didn't think too much about it at the time. We thought he was a little bit over-loaded, but then something else showed up on the scan".

Supporters have urged Real president Florentino Perez to sign a new number nine in the current January market with Benzema having only scored five goals in the first half of the campaign.

Cadena Cope, however, has reported that Zidane doesn't want a new striker and Los Blancos will only make one addition during the current transfer window in the form of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.

The Spanish radio station says that Zidane gave the green light for Real to complete the €20m (£17.7m, $24m) signing during a meeting held on Tuesday [2 January] with Perez and Los Blancos director general Jose Angel Sanchez.

Zidane did admit the meeting with Perez but was coy when asked about the potential arrival of the Spanish goalkeeper.

"I don't like to talk about players who aren't Real Madrid players. I'm only thinking about my goalkeepers," the boss replied when asked about the current Athletic keeper.

"I talked with the president and we looked at everything. We could speak about reinforcements, but there will be no signings at the minute, although anything could happen before the end of January. Of course, I don't want any of the squad to leave".

"I'm going to ask [the Three Kings] for good health for everyone. No goalkeepers, no forwards. I'm happy with my squad and I'm going to fight until the end with them,

"I'm happy with my squad no matter what happens and I'm going to fight with them, and they will with me, until the end. I have faith in my squad. It hurts to lose El Clasico against Barcelona but Real Madrid never give up. We're alive in all three competitions and we have the same enthusiasm to fight in every match we play from now until the end of May. At the end of the season we'll see if there are things that need to be changed or not".