Tapping into the spine
The latest additions to the Real Madrid treatment room have sounded the alarms around the Bernabéu. The most recent set back was the injury to Sergio Ramos while on duty with Spain, who looks like he will be out of action for six weeks, giving Zinedine Zidane a further headache. The Frenchman already knew that two of his central pillars, Casemiro and Modric, were going to be out for a while and now a further blow has been dealt to part of the Real Madrid spine.
Certainly the biggest disappointment in all of this - something that would have surprised many if predicted not so long ago - is the absence of holding midfielder, Casemiro. As was noted near the end of the summer transfer window, his position is the only one that doesn't have natural and immediate cover. His injury on September 18 against Espanyol was diagnosed to have him out for between one and two months with the club hopeful of his return for the Madrid derby on 20 November although it's still too early to know. Modric, and now Sergio Ramos, are also facing a race against time to make that key game.
Calm before the storm
That date towards the end of November, when Simeone's men will be awaiting their neighbour's visit to the Calderón, is a key target for Madrid's medical team. There is much to do before then though.
Ahead of the next international break Zidane has to put a winning side together for six games in 23 days including the Champions League game against Legia Warsaw (18 Oct) and the game against Athletic Bilbao (Oct 23).
The Calderón trip then kicks off the final sprint of 2016 for Los Blancos with 10 games in 33 or 34 days, with the Camp Nou being one notable fixture as well as a trip to Japan for the Club World Cup and a meeting at the Bernabéu against Borussia Dortmund which many believe will decide who finishes first and second in their Champions League group. It's a rather key period.
Upcoming Real Madrid fixtures
|1||Saturday||15 October||20:45||Betis - Real Madrid||LaLiga|
|2||Tuesday||18 October||20:45||Real Madrid - Legia Varsovia||Champions League|
|3||Sunday||23 October||20:45||Real Madrid - Athletic||LaLiga|
|4||Saturday||29 October||16:15||Alavés - Real Madrid||LaLiga|
|5||Wednesday||2 November||20:45||Legia Varsovia - Real Madrid||Champions League|
|6||Sunday||6 November||12:00||Real Madrid - Leganés||LaLiga|
Real Madrid 2016 final stretch
|1||Saturday||19 Nov||s. c.||Atlético - Real Madrid||LaLiga|
|2||Tuesday||22 Nov||20:45||Sporting Portugal - Real Madrid||Champions League|
|3||tbc||26-27 Nov||s. c.||Real Madrid - Sporting Gijón||LaLiga|
|4||tbc||29-30 Nov||s. c.||1/16 final (home)||Copa del Rey|
|5||Saturday||4 Dec||s. c.||Barcelona - Real Madrid||LaLiga|
|6||Wednesday||7 Dec||s. c.||Real Madrid - Dortmund||Champions League|
|7||tbc||10-11 Dec||s. c.||Real Madrid - Deportivo||LaLiga|
|8||Thursday||15 Dec||11:30||Por confirmar||CWC|
|Postponed||Valencia - Real Madrid*||LaLiga|
|9||Sunday||18 Dec||s. c.||Final (11:30) or Third place (08:00)||CWC|
|10||tbc.||21-22 Dec||s. c.||1/16 final (away)||Copa del Rey|
*Real Madrid will play their Liga game against Valencia on 14/15 or 21/22 February 2017, depending on potential Champions League commitments.
Zidane: key selections, no excuses
The manager will already be looking ahead and planning out his selection strategy for the coming months with these key players out. And it is something that he is having to get used to with only two of his first team players escaping injury so far this campaign. The Frenchman has already shown his trait of squad rotation especially when players have returned from distant travels for their country duty.
Now all eyes will be on his next starting eleven to see what his preferred system and personnel are but also, more importantly, on how they then perform. At a club like Real Madrid where squad depth is expected, injuries are not much of an excuse.