Real Madrid have dealt a huge setback before their crunch Champions League semi-final tie against Chelsea. Centre-back Raphael Varane will miss the second leg of the Chelsea fixture after suffering an injury.
The 28-year-old defender played the full 90 minutes in the first-leg that ended 1-1. He even started Real’s weekend La Liga game against Cadiz. But he limped off at half-time with discomfort in his leg.
Real manager Zinedine Zidane was hopeful that Varane would be fit to play at Stamford Bridge. But the club officially revealed that Varane suffered an injury to his right abductor muscle, with ultimately rules him out of the second leg.
Zidane now faces a selection dilemma against Chelsea. To make matters worse, history is against them going into the game. Real are winless in their previous four away games against English opponents in the Champions League, scoring just two goals in the process.
Selection dilemma for Zidane:
Real have a number of injury concerns going into the Chelsea game. Zidane will surely be without Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez, with the latter reportedly out for the rest of the season. There will be a late fitness test for left-back Ferland Mendy as well, who has missed the last few games.
They are also waiting to find out whether Federico Valverde will be available for the game. The Uruguayan tested positive for coronavirus, as a result, he missed the first leg. He is back in training though.
Left-back Marcelo should be available to play despite being called up for polling duty. Eden Hazard could also feature against his former employees, as he started the league game against Cadiz.
Zidane could also have club captain Sergio Ramos available for the game. The Spanish defender returned to full training last week. But he has not featured since suffering an injury while on international duty with Spain at the end of March. Still, Zidane will be without a full-strength team against Chelsea.
Chelsea to benefit from Varane absence?
Real have suffered a massive blow with Varane ruled out for the game. But they should not be written off. They have already done reasonably well without the French defender in the Champions League this season.
Nacho and Eder Militao started both legs against Liverpool in the quarter-finals, as Real won the tie 3-1 on aggregate. The duo was very solid in both the legs and kept Liverpool’s attack quiet for the majority of the tie. Their outstanding defensive display earned them a clean sheet at Anfield and book Real’s ticket for the competition’s semi-finals. If Ramos fails to pass the fitness test, expect Nacho and Militao to start in defence.
The Blues have injury issues as well. Playmaker Mason Mount limped off in the second half of their weekend Premier League win over Fulham. The Englishman clattered with Fulham’s midfielder Mario Lemina and stayed down, before being helped out by the club’s medical team.
Manager Thomas Tuchel also confirmed that midfielder Mateo Kovacic will miss the game through injury, which also kept him out of the first leg. But centre-back Antonio Rudiger will be available with the aid of a protective mask.