Zidane playing catch-up ahead of derby date with Atletico
Zinedine Zidane has been forced to improvise in recent weeks without many of his first XI available and is looking towards the derby against Atlético.
Real Madrid’s injury problems are showing few signs of easing as Zinedine Zidane prepares his side to face Real Sociedad next Monday. During Friday’s training session at Valdebebas, the Frenchman was still missing several senior players with Álvaro Odriozola, Éder Militão, Marcelo, Fede Valverde, Eden Hazard, Rodrygo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal all at various different stages of their recovery processes.
Zidane has been unable to field anything like his first-choice XI for large parts of the season but has found his cupboard increasingly bare since the turn of the year, stocking his match day squads with Castilla youngsters and rarely having more than a full team plus a pair of outfield substitutes available. Among the long-term absentees are Rodrygo and Valverde, who before picking up an injury had been a regular feature in midfield.
Rodrygo, Valverde promise cut short
The Brazilian, who enjoyed a stellar few games in the Champions League that hinted at a breakthrough season, picked up a muscle tear against Granada on 23 December and was expected to be out of action for up to three months. In the case of Valverde, an adductor injury suffered in the Copa defeat at Alcoyano came shortly after he had returned to the side after recovering from a bone fracture in his right leg. Initial indications were that the Uruguay midfielder would be out for two to three weeks but he has now been missing for five.
February has his Madrid’s squad particularly hard. Sergio Ramos underwent surgery on a knee problem on the 6th having been out of action since the Super Cup game against Atlético in mid-January. The club captain is aiming to be back for the Champions League return leg against Atalanta on 16 March.
Eden Hazard has also been beset by injury issues. The Belgium international is working towards being available for the derby against Atlético on 7 March after picking up a ninth injury since his move to the Bernabéu from Chelsea earlier in February.
Zidane's back line decimated
Real Madrid’s trip to Huesca was particularly costly with Zidane returning to find that Militão had picked up a problem in training to add to the loss of Odriozola during the 2-1 win in El Alcoraz. Both players have now been unavailable for three weeks with the back line being bolstered by Lucas Vázquez, Nacho and Castilla defender Víctor Chust in recent weeks.
Marcelo was the next to fall as the Brazilian picked up a calf problem against Getafe that will keep him out until at least the Madrid derby. Carvajal, meanwhile, returned to action against Valencia on 14 February after six weeks out but was only able to play 27 minutes before a recurrence of a thigh injury that is expected to sideline the Spain international until at least the Clásico against Barcelona in April.
Finally, Zidane’s most trusted lieutenant, Benzema, has been out as a precaution after picking up a niggle in the adductor. The forward missed the victory at Valladolid and the win over Atalanta and is unlikely to be risked against La Real on Monday as Zidane looks towards the derby and the chance to close the three-point gap on Atlético at the top of LaLiga in a straight shoot-out at the Metropolitano.
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