Upon returning from the international break, Thibaut Courtois suffered a back injury, which is undoubtedly a major loss for Real Madrid as they aim to retain their La Liga crown this season.
As the Belgian No.1’s instant classic of a display in Los Blancos’ 1-0 win in last term’s Champions League showcased, he has a case for arguably being the best goalkeeper in the world.
However, in the former Chelsea man’s absence, Andriy Lunin has proven to be an able deputy.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won two and drawn one match since the 30-year-old was deemed injured, with a 1-1 draw against CA Osasuna followed by successive victories against Shakhtar Donestk and Getafe.
With Real Madrid hoping to beat Barcelona in the top-of-the-table clash against Barcelona on Sunday, Miguel Angel Diaz has revealed that there are doubts that Thibaut Courtois will be fit in time for the contest.
If Xavi’s side defeat Celta Vigo on Sunday night, they will maintain their lead at the summit of the table via a superior goal difference.
While Los Merengues certainly have the minerals to beat the Blaugrana, the potential absence of a gamechanger such as Courtois could prove to be the difference maker between both sides.
With Barça having one of the best forward lines within their ranks, they are bound to cause Real Madrid problems at the back, despite their solid record at the back.
As a result, the absence of one of the best shot-stoppers on the planet could prove to be a huge blow to the side from the Spanish capital.
From the club’s perspective, the hope remains that Courtois returns to full fitness imminently, especially during such a busy October period before the 2022 World Cup commences.
Key Real Madrid defender still not 100% fit ahead of Club World Cup semi-final – report
Carlo Ancelotti heads into the FIFA Club World Cup in a pressure cooker situation. The pressure on the manager’s shoulders is immense, for his job could be on the line after Real Madrid’s poor run of form.
The injury situation does not favour the Italian tactician either. Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy, Karim Benzema, Eder Militao and even Thibaut Courtois are out of the semi-final against Al Ahly, leaving him very few options to play with.
According to reports from Jorge C Picon, David Alaba too is not completely fit yet. The Austrian International was given the medical all-clear and entered the squad for Real Madrid’s game against Mallorca, yet started on the bench as he was not at 100%, and that remains the case ahead of tonight’s clash.
The report, however, adds that his mere inclusion in the squad comes as a breather for Ancelotti. Alaba is highly valued by the technical staff, not only for his reading of the game on the field but also for his leadership.
The defender has already missed seven games for Los Blancos since sustaining a muscular injury against Villarreal at La Ceramica. He did indeed come off the bench for under half an hour against Mallorca, but will likely not be risked to start on Thursday.
In his absence, Nacho Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger are expected to take centre stage in defence in Morocco. Eduardo Camavinga, meanwhile, could start as left-back again.
Alaba has played 17 games for Los Blancos this season and was one of the players with the most minutes until his injury. In his league campaign so far, he has scored one goal and provided three assists while also averaging a key pass every ninety minutes.
It remains to be seen if the Austrian recovers completely in time for the Club World Cup final should the European Champions make it. As it stands, using a cautious approach is in Real Madrid’s best interest.