Real Madrid will face Chelsea on Wednesday night in the second leg of the Champions League semifinals. And although there is optimism that star defenders Ferland Mendy and Sergio Ramos can return from their respective injuries, Zinedine Zidane must plan his XI without two more important players.
Raphael Varane started in this weekend’s 2-0 win over Osasuna, but he had to leave the game at the half for Nacho Fernandez. At the time, it was unclear what happened, but, after the game, we heard word of a potential injury to Varane.
According to a report from Sergio Santos Chozas of AS, the Real Madrid center back will need to undergo an MRI on Monday in order to assess the injury.
But even if he is not seriously injured, Zidane is not expected to start Varane. He won’t need to risk the star man, as Nacho has played well. And Eder Militao has been even better, including on Saturday in another Man of the Match display that included the go-ahead goal.
Perhaps more concerningly, the report from AS goes on to state that Fede Valverde still has not tested negative for COVID-19. There was optimism that the all-action center midfielder would be healthy and ready to return for the second leg, but he cannot play without a negative test due to the protocol.
And it seems that because the game is only a few days away, Valverde is at risk of not playing at all. He wasn’t able to play against Osasuna, meaning he is not 100 percent fresh for Chelsea. The report from AS goes as far to state that Zidane does not plan on having Valverde available at all, using this as an additional reason for why Zizou obliged with resting Luka Modric and Toni Kroos fully.
So it looks like we should get a Militao and Nacho partnership at center back or a Ramos and Militao tandem if Nacho must start at fullback due to Mendy’s injury.
As for the midfield, we will see the old guard trio line up together in yet another big match. Valverde could be a great super-sub to have against the Blues, but it looks like Zidane cannot count on him being ready to play.