Real Madrid loses Benzema for weeks with Villarreal lurking in fourth

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Real Madrid’s La Liga title dreams are close to dead, and now perhaps the club needs to worry about its automatic trip to the group stage of next year’s UEFA Champions League.

The top three Spanish sides bypass the playoff rounds of the UCL, and Real is only two points ahead of fourth place Villarreal.

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And for the next few weeks, they’ll have to fend off that challenge without Karim Benzema. The French striker has a muscle injury in the back of his leg, one which could linger for weeks.

The shot to their striker depth hurts, especially given their four matches in 11 days includes a matchup with No. 5 Celta Vigo and the second leg of a UCL tie with Roma (one Real leads 2-0 with away goals).

Football Espana says he’s out for up to three weeks. Real didn’t give a timetable, but did lay out the injury:

Following the tests carried out on Karim Benzema at the Sanitas la Moraleja University Hospital, the player has been diagnosed with a muscle injury to his right biceps femoris. His recovery will continue to be assessed.

Villarreal has European competition to deal with, too, and there’s no fears of other teams passing Real Madrid on the table. But firing Rafa Benitez didn’t fix much of anything. Perhaps Real needs to focus only on the Champions League for a while.