Madrid without Benzema, Khedira against Athletic
Real Madrid will be without France striker Karim Benzema and Germany midfielder Sami Khedira for Saturday's La Liga match at Athletic Bilbao.
Benzema missed the Spanish club's last two games - the 4-0 rout of Tottenham in the Champions League and the 1-0 defeat to Sporting Gijon that dropped it eight points behind domestic leader Barcelona. Benzema had scored 10 goals in eight appearances before injuring his leg on international duty.
''He's coming along well and we don't want to risk him,'' assistant coach Aitor Karanka said on Friday. ''These are important players for us and we'd rather count on them for the final stretch of the season since we're playing for so much.''
Barcelona travels to Madrid on April 16 for the first of a possible four ''clasico'' matches between the rivals, who meet in the Copa del Rey final four days later. The pair can also meet in the Champions League semifinals with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1 after the first leg of their quarterfinal.
Khedira will also not make the trip to San Mames, where Madrid has won five of its last six games.
''As long as there are mathematical possibilities, this team will fight until the end because it is a club that never gives up,'' Karanka said.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Marcelo will all travel after recovering from injuries to play against Tottenham.