Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a buzz of a treble in the Real Madrid camp. They hadn’t lost a single game in 40 outings. The Blancos were comfortably sitting at the top of La Liga, four points above Sevilla with a match in hand. But things have gone downhill since then. Their record-breaking streak was ended by Sevilla with a 2-1 league victory. Then Celta Vigo stunned Madrid at Bernebeu with a 2-1 Copa Del Rey first leg success. Madrid now are looking forward to overturn the deficit, as they take on Celta.
But it’s not the form that will concern Zidane. It’s the number of important injuries that he has to cope with at the moment. With Gareth Bale injured since last November, Lucas Vazquez has done a pretty good job in filling the big shoes of the Welshman. But now it’s getting worse for Zidane and co. As he himself stated during a press conference, “It is not the form of the attackers which worries me at the moment, it is more the injuries.”
Pepe has been sidelined with a calf problem for a long time now, and he has been missed dearly. Madrid have been playing two matches per week this month on a regular basis. And it is hurting them to have just three central defenders fit enough to play. And now with Varane not in the squad for the game, Sergio Ramos and Nacho will start.
Real Madrid’s defence were already lacking Dani Carvajal. But now Marcelo has become the latest entry in the long list of injuries for them. It will be tough for Madrid without the charismatic full-back, who provides so much assistance in attack down the left hand side for Madrid. The only thing that will keep Zidane ticking is the return of Fabio Coentrao. Danilo has failed to impress on the other side of the flank in the absence of Carvajal. We could see Vazquez playing in that position, as Zidane used him as a right back against Malaga last week.
Madrid will miss Modric in the midfield, who is arguably their best playmaker. Modric picked an injury last week against Malaga and is expected to be out for three weeks. With James Rodriguez also out with a calf problem, either Asensio or Isco is expected to start ahead of Kovacic. If Zidane uses Vazquez as a full-back, it is almost certain that both of them will start the match alongside Kroos and Casemiro, with Ronaldo and Benzema playing as strikers in a 4-4-2.
Most importantly, the Madrid players now need their supporters. A section of fans booed Benzema after his dismal showing against Malaga. Even Ronaldo had to suffer from a few jeers after he missed a one on one. Club captain Sergio Ramos has responded to it, asking fans to support them during this crisis. He stated, “It’s in the difficult moments that we need them to be behind us, not kicking us when we are down.”
Real Madrid sit on top of the league table, a point ahead of Sevilla with a match in hand. They are still favourites to win their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Napoli. Their squad has the courage and patience to cope up with the injuries and overturn this 2-1 deficit against Celta in the Spanish Cup. So, the last thing that Zidane will want is for his players to panic.