With Real Madrid already out of the Copa Del Rey this season, Carlo Ancelotti´s chances of a trophy to give the Madrid fans something to celebrate and a real chance of keeping his job as manager. But the two pieces of silverware still available to the Italian coach are looking increasingly at risk as an injury crisis threatens to derail our hopes in the Champions League and La Liga.
Real Madrid will host lowly Elche at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the result is not as straighforward as you would think. For one thing, Carlo Ancelotti has had his preparations for today’s game disrupted by a baffling decision by the panel set up to make rulings on all sorts of disciplinary cases.
The Italian manager had expected them to decide this morning that the three match ban given to Ronaldo for the slightest of touches on the captain of Bilbao a couple of weeks ago was too harsh. So Ancelotti had prepared for the game with Ronaldo in the team, but the three game ban was upheld.
You would think a team club like Real Madrid, with a stellar squad assembled from the world’s best players, would be able to cope with the loss of a player. Apart from Cristiano Ronaldo, who is unique, Madrid should have plenty of options, but there is serious concern among Madrid fans and pundits in Spain that the loss of Sami Khedira could be a real problem.
The German midfielder, who damaged his cruciate ligament in the friendly against Italy on Friday, is thought to be the only player of his kind in the team. There are others who play in the same position, like Alonso, Modric and the new signings Casemiro and Illarramendi, but they are all different.
It is always a danger during the international break, and it has happened again to Real Madrid. A number of players last season came down with the so-called FIFA virus, including Marcelo and Coentrao at the same time, and it struck again last night.
This time it was the Germany midfielder Sami Khedira who was injured, and it was a bad one. The powerful midfielder lasted just over an hour against Italy in his countries 1-1 draw, and today it has been revealed that he has torn a cruciate ligament in his knee, meaning that Real Madrid will have to do without him for around six months.
If there is any truth in the rumours linking Real Madrid with the Juventus player Paul Pogba and the Chelsea player Ramires, it suggests that Carlo Ancelotti has identified a weakness in his La Liga side. Both if the players mentioned play in a box-to-box midfield role, with the onus being on energy and work rate.
That is currently the position filled by Sami Khedira and Luka Modric, and while the former Tottenham man seems happy, is playing well and has become a fans favourite at the Santiago Bernabeu, the German international does not seem entirely settled. There have been stories in the press about Khedira and he was critical of the decision to sell Mesut Ozil to Arsenal.
Real Madrid get their La Liga campaign underway this evening when Real Betis come to the Santiago Bernabeu for Carlo Ancelotti’s first competitive game as manager of Los Blancos. Although there are still a few possible transfers being reported in the media, the 54-year old Italian has professed himsrelf to be content with the players that he has got.
Real Madrid fans are expecting a much stronger start to the season than last year, when Mourinho’s team played themselves out of the title race before Christmas. The club has already added some top quality players in key positions, although it is unlikely that Asier Illarramendi will feature as he is regaining his fitness.
Any ideas of Real Madrid getting an easy ride from Tottenham Hotspur because of the special relationship that the two clubs were alleged to have agreed on after the transfer of Luka Modric last summer can be put to one side. The Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy seems determined to make it as hard as possible for Madrid to complete the transfer that would be the cherry on the top of a fantastic summer at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid know all about Robert Lewandowski. The Polish international striker has been a real thorn in the side of Madrid this season. He scored against Real in the group stages of the Champions League and led Borussia Dortmund to top the group ahead of Madrid. The real damage came in the semi-final, when his four goals in the first leg effectively ended the tie.
There is still almost ho hope that Real Madrid can defend the Spanish Primera Liga title, but at least the players made sure that Barcelona would have to earn it. Anything less than a victory against Malaga at the Bernabeu last night would have meant the Catalan club sealing the league without playing.
It could have been a difficult night for Madrid, with feeling running high, especially against Jose Mourinho. The rumours of discordance in the dressing room and the fact that Malaga were desperate for points in their bid for Champions League football next season made it a potentially awkward encounter, but everything turned out great. (see highlights below)
Real Madrid face the biggest game of the season so far tomorrow, and it seems as if Jose Mourinho will have fewer players to choose from than he would like. Luka Modric, who was the star of the show as Madrid came from behind to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, is a real doubt. To add to the problems, the Brazilian left back Marcelo looks like missing both legs.