Benitez calls on 2nd string players to make most of stars' absences

Jese Rodriguez (left), tussling with PSG defender Serge Aurier in their Oct 21 Champions League clash, has been fielded by Real Madrid, who are facing a mini injury crisis involving their top players.
Jese Rodriguez (left), tussling with PSG defender Serge Aurier in their Oct 21 Champions League clash, has been fielded by Real Madrid, who are facing a mini injury crisis involving their top players.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MADRID • Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez will again be without several of his heavyweights when Paris St Germain visit in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The likely absences of forwards Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale as well as playmaker James Rodriguez have forced the Spaniard to shuffle his pack and turn to his second-string players.

The record 10-time winners are tied with PSG on seven points and a win will see them pull clear at the top of Group A. They drew 0-0 in Paris last month.

With a string of regulars missing in recent weeks, Benitez has deployed youngsters like Casemiro, Jese Rodriguez, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho - who all graduated from Real's B team - to get the club through a mini injury crisis.

Real remain unbeaten in La Liga and are joint top with champions Barcelona on 24 points after 10 matches. The goal scored by Las Palmas on Saturday - a header at a corner - was the first they conceded at home this season.

"I told the players that these are the games they have to make the most of," Benitez said.

"They are collecting points for us and they are helping us maintain our competitiveness so the team can keep growing. When the other players return, it will be harder but the important thing is that they are available and they contribute to keeping the team winning."

There was some good news though as defender Sergio Ramos, whose shoulder was rested at the weekend, and midfielder Luka Modric are in line to face the French side at the Bernabeu Stadium.

It will also mark the return of former Madrid star Angel di Maria, who scored the winning goal in the side's last match, a 1-0 win at Rennes. The Ligue One outfit are unbeaten this term under coach Laurent Blanc. REUTERS

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain

Ch202, tomorrow, 3.45am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Benitez calls on 2nd string players to make most of stars' absences'. Print Edition | Subscribe