Lionel Messi was expected to be formidable again and there was excitement even around Gareth Bale following reports from Valdebebas he was the fittest Real Madrid player to return from lockdown.
Hazard and Suarez were returning from surgery too, handed an unexpected last shot at turning the season. If either came back at their best, it would surely tip the balance.
But Benzema was overlooked, despite 19 goals in 36 games before the ...
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