Rafa Benitez defends Real Madrid club doctor
Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez has defended the club's medical staff as his injury-hit squad prepare for Saturday afternoon's tricky-looking La Liga trip to Celta Vigo.
The 2015-16 season so far has seen Madrid suffer 11 different injuries in 96 days -- with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Mateo Kovacic all currently at less than 100 percent fit.
Asked about the situation at his pregame news conference, the Blancos coach said all top sides suffered injuries due to the scale of their commitments, and he was very happy with the work being done by the club's medical team.
"Today I received a UEFA analysis about injuries, and it seems from that Madrid are doing pretty well," Benitez said. "We need to compare with other teams who play twice a week, in the Champions League, who have many players with international teams. We are the same as other teams in that situation.
"Things can happen during games, at the top level. I'm very happy with the work being done by the medical department, there is a lot of collaboration and coordination and we have top level specialists. After 20 years in football, this medical team are among the best I have had."
Benzema, Ramos and Kovacic all have a chance of playing against Celta, Benitez suggested, while Modric had suffered no ill-effects from his 20 minutes in Wednesday's 0-0 Champions League Group A draw at Paris Saint-Germain.
"We have a training session now, we will see how they have recovered," he said. "We have three or four players on the limit. Benzema did some of the work yesterday. It is a close thing. Kovacic and Ramos, it depends on the risk we want to take. Until we train we cannot know for sure how the players are. Modric is fine, he trained, he played, so we are more optimistic on him."
Benitez said the team's performance in having the better of the game at PSG midweek, even with all the missing players, had shown the quality of his squad.
"We all liked the team, in defence, attack, transitions etc.," he said. "We are talking about a team who arrived in attack well, solid, worked for each other, full of conviction. When we get the injured players back, the good thing is we have shown everyone the path. If we keep this attitude we can beat any opponent."
Celta have impressed so far this season, especially in beating Barca 4-1 at Balaidos earlier this month, but Madrid have generally fared OK in meetings with the Galicians through recent years, winning five of their last six clashes.
"We know it will be a very difficult game," Benitez said. "They have not lost yet, they play with a lot of intensity, have had good results. They play a high tempo game, but we can control them by controlling the ball. We will try and keep possession and score goals, and then defend when we have to defend. Playing two and a half days later is always a handicap, but we have the quality to beat them."
Asked about claims from an anonymous assistant referee that he was asked by the La Liga refereeing authorities to favour Madrid in upcoming Clasico against Barcelona on Nov. 21, Benitez said the issue should be investigated and measures taken against those making the claims if they cannot be substantiated.
"It does not seem serious to me," he said. "Without the name of the person making the claim... the authorities need to get to the bottom of this, look for all the information, and if it is not serious, this person or these people must pay for the damage they are doing to Spanish football in general. Because news like this is continually being invented and spread in the media."