Not so long ago, Real Madrid were poised to solidify their title charge following an unbeaten streak in La Liga. Only Jorge Sampaoli’s Sevilla stood in the way of Madrid affirming their title claim and floating on cloud nine, but things didn’t quite turn out as expected for Zidane’s side.
A loss to Sevilla brought Los Blancos back to earth, but with a game in hand; hindsight is the least of Madrid’s worries following the team’s recent injury problems.
Marcelo limped off the pitch in the first-half against Malaga two weeks ago. Zizou had Nacho’s versatility to thank as he moved the 27-year-old to left-back while playing Lucas Vazquez as a makeshift right-back.
Alongside Marcelo on the list of Real Madrid’s injury absentees sits James Rodriguez, Pepe, Dani Carvajal, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
Real Madrid now face the challenge of maintaining their title challenge without some key players – a seemingly daunting task over the next two weeks seeing as Sevilla and Barcelona are hot on their heels.
Los Blancos are expected to experience a dip in form in La Liga amid their situation, but while the injuries might be a massive setback, it’s certainly not as insuperable as many might imagine.
Madrid’s most hard-hit department is apparently their defence with their primary full-backs set to be sidelined for two to three weeks. Modric is the only notable absentee in the middle of the park, and as we’ve already seen this season, he’s replaceable.
Zidane can count on Isco and Kovacic – players who on any given day can dictate the tempo of the midfield, which is a testament to Real’s strength in depth.
In defence, Danilo can line up at right-back for the duration of Carvajal’s injury.
Despite Danilo being much-maligned at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, he remains a viable option. Achraf Hakimi could also come into the fray.
On the opposite flank, Nacho is superficially one of Zidane’s best options at left-back having done a decent job against Malaga, although, the French tactician could also look to Castilla player, Alvaro Tejero for Marcelo’s short-term replacement following Luis Miguel Ramis’ admission of the quality within the B team.
Madrid may be undergoing a mini-crisis right now, but these are the moments that test a team’s title credentials.
This isn’t the first time Real Madrid have been without key players this term. Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos have previously been out with injuries, yet the team managed to maintain their high-performance levels.
Similarly, when Bale got injured, the general perception was that the team’s prolificacy would wane, which of course wasn’t the case as Ronaldo and Benzema continued firing on all cylinders.
Despite the fact that Ronaldo has been languid recently, it’s worth noting the same thing happened at the start of the campaign, and it didn’t take long for him to recover from it.
This is undoubtedly the most difficult point of Real Madrid’s season so far, but judging by past events and their squad depth, they evidently have enough about them to pull through and maintain their title bid.