Ancelotti denies Benzema being rested ahead of World Cup

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Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has quelled suggestions that Karim Benzema is unavailable for club action in order to keep him fit for the World Cup.

The France international is set to represent the defending champions in Qatar but enters the tournament with a lack of minutes, having last appeared domestically against Elche on October 19.

Those fitness issues will once again keep Benzema absent from Thursday's trip to Cadiz, the final game before Qatar 2022, where Madrid are looking to bounce back after a surprise defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Monday.

Benzema's recent absence has not resulted in any concerns that he could be missing for France, leading to suggestions that he may just be being rested to ensure he does not get injured ahead of the tournament.

But Ancelotti denied that was the case.

"It has bothered me that he has not been able to help us with his quality - he has tried but he has not been able to come back from this small thing, so he is not available," Ancelotti said in Wednesday's press conference.

"I don't have to say anything to anyone. The first disappointed person is Karim, who arrives at the World Cup without the necessary minutes to be in good condition.

"To think that he has been rested, I do not believe it, it is silly. He has not stopped; he has trained alone, but the feelings he had were not good.

"It means he arrives at the World Cup with few minutes in his legs."

Asked whether Benzema ever felt his World Cup involvement was in doubt, Ancelotti added: "No, apart from that big injury against Celtic, it's been two small things."

Madrid's defeat last time out leaves the defending LaLiga champions five points adrift of leaders Barcelona, albeit with a game in hand, and Ancelotti highlighted a drop in intensity as the reason for his side's decline.

He added: "If you lower intensity against teams that do not play in Europe, such as Rayo, they can be at a higher level than the rest.

"It's less noticeable when you're playing against teams that do play in Europe."