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El Clasico: Lewandowski forced to wait longer for Benzema battle

Real Madrid CF has confirmed that prolific striker Karim Benzema will be missing El Clasico against FC Barcelona in Las Vegas on Saturday. It will be a huge disappointment for fans who had been hoping to see a duel between the Frenchman and new Barcelona signing Robert Lewandowski.

The Polish star joined the Catalan giants in a controversial deal last weekend, with the Bavarian side reluctantly being forced to let go of Europe’s top scorer. despite swimming in debt, Barcelona managed to cough up the cash to match Bayern’s 50 million euro asking price.

Lewandowski will therefore be making his debut in a friendly El Clasico as part of both clubs’ pre-season tour of the United States. However, he won’t be able to go head-to-head against Benzema, who is staying back in Los Angeles.

The Frenchman had a delayed start to pre-season training, missing sessions in Valdebebas before rejoining the squad in the US. As such, he has had limited time to get back to match fitness ahead of the friendly against their big rivals.

Dani Carvajal will also be missed from the Real Madrid lineup after suffering an ankle injury during training. Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI shows that he is determined to use the pre-season to get to know his new signings, and give them and his fringe players more confidence on the pitch. Benzema will be entirely absent, while the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are giving up starting positions for Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni. New arrival Antonio Rudiger will also be making his debut.

Meanwhile, Xavi also has his new guns blazing for Barcelona. Lewandowski will be front and centre, but new signings Raphinha and Christensen will also start. Striker Ansu Fati is available, and will be hoping to get back to top form after almost two years in the sidelines due to lengthy injuries.

This may be a friendly, but both sides know it will set the tone for the title battle next season.

Karim Benzema scored the decisive goal in extra time as Real Madrid recovered to knock out Chelsea in the Champions League last season. AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
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