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50-50 Challenge: RBNY vs. D.C. United

Major League Soccer
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Benzema return provides Madrid boost

Karim Benzema returns to the Real Madrid squad for Saturday's Primera Division trip to Malaga, but full-back Fabio Coentrao misses out with a muscle problem.

• Blog: 'Loser' Pellegrini targets Mou • Perez tries to rebuild media bridges
• Pellegrino not out for Real revenge

Madrid boss Jose Mourinho will be happy to have Benzema back to lead his attack, but will likely bring in Nacho Fernandez, 22, or Ricardo Carvalho, 34, in a rejigged back line for the game against the in-form Andalucians, who sit just one place and five points behind Madrid in the table.

Another change to the team that disappointingly drew 2-2 with Espanyol at the Bernabeu last week could be Argentina winger Angel di Maria replacing Luka Modric in the starting XI.

Portugal centre-back Pepe is a slight doubt after training on the margins at Madrid's Valdebebas facility on Friday morning, however he is expected to start the game.

Young French defender Raphael Varane and forward Gonzalo Higuain continued their respective comebacks from injury at the session, but are not yet fit enough to be considered, while defenders Raul Albiol and Marcelo are also currently absent, with both expected to return early in the New Year.

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