REAL MADRID

Make-or-break month for Zidane's depleted Real Madrid squad

Zidane is currently without nine key first team players as Real Madrid face a frenetic fixture list with eight games in the space of a month in LaLiga and the Champions League.

Make-or-break month for Zidane's depleted Real Madrid squad

The next five weeks will go some way in determining the direction of the 2020/21 season for Real Madrid. Zidane will have to contend with a combination of players contracting coronavirus, injuries and players just returning from injury as the club face five tricky LaLiga games along with three Champions League ties with 'Los Blancos' only picking up four points in the opening three games of the group stage.

Nine Madrid players are either in the sick bay or self-isolating. Militão and Hazard remain in quarantine, and there has been no word from the club as to whether either has since tested negative for coronavirus; Sergio Ramos and Varane picked up injuries while out on the international duty - the captain pulled his right hamstring while on duty for Spain and Varane is nursing a shoulder injury; Benzema, was unable to complete the Valencia game and has been training apart; Fede Valverde while be out for some time after fracturing his shin bone and lastly, Carvajal, Odriozola and Nacho, are only just coming out of their respective recovery programmes.

La Liga Santander - Valencia v Real MadridSoccer Football - La Liga Santander - Valencia v Real Madrid - Mestalla, Valencia, Spain - November 8, 2020 Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane during the match REUTERS/Juan Medina

21 November: Villarreal (LaLiga away)

A tricky tie away in Castellon awaits Zidane this weekend with the French coach facing a defensive headache with both central defenders Varane and Ramos set to be out of contention for the trip to the Estadio de la Ceramica where the past three meetings between both sides have finished 2-2.

25 November: Inter (Champions League away)

The following Wednesday, Madrid travel to Milan as they face Inter in a Champions League Group B clash. Zidane's men edged out the Serie A at Valdebebas and the 3-2 scoreline was somewhat flattering with Rodrygo bagging a later winner. Avoiding defeat at San Siro will be imperative for Madrid.

28 November: Alaves (LaLiga home)

The only game of the eight which, on paper at least Real Madrid are expected to negotiate without any major difficulties. The men from Vitoria have only managed to beat Madrid in the Spanish capital once in 15 meetings (1999/2000 season) and would still be expected to secure maximum points despite the injury situation.

1 December: Shakhtar (Champions League away)

The 3-2 from the Ukrainian outfit at Valdebebas in matchday one of the 2020/21 Champions League was one of the biggest shocks in the competition and even more-so, given the depleted squad that travelled to Madrid with covid cases impacting on the Shakhtar squad. A 'must-win' game for Zidane.

5 December: Sevilla (LaLiga away)

The lack of supporters in attendance at the Sanchez Pizjuan will be a minor boost for Real Madrid with 'Los Blancos' perennially receiving a hostile reception at one of LaLiga's ,ost intimidating grounds. A 0-1 league win in 2019 for Madrid contrasts with three back-to-back defeats in the Andalusian capital for Real Madrid.

9 December: Borussia Monchengladbach (Champions League home)

Real Madrid's last game of the group stage sees the visit of high flying Bundesliga side Monchengladbach with Zidane's men having to dig deep to secure a 2-2 draw at Borussia Park. The Round of 16 draw takes place on 14 December and could the unthinkable happen of an absence of the 13-times-winners in the pots at UEFA HQ?

13 December: Atlético Madrid (LaLiga home)

The Madrid derby is always a close and tightly contested affair but it's anticipated by this point of time, the Madrid injury-bay has seen a clear-out with key players having returned.

20 December: Eibar (LaLiga away)

Real Madrid's record at Ipurua is impressive with 'Los Blancos' having just tasted defeat once in six visits to the smallest stadium in LaLiga and the lack of fans in attendance will also play into the visitors hands.