It has been a season riddled with injuries for Real Madrid and the fitness issues are showing no signs of letting up.
With Real Madrid set to face SC Braga in the UEFA Champions League in a matter of minutes, they have been handed a fresh injury issue.
Indeed, the Merengues have officially confirmed that starting goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has dropped out of the lineup due to a last-minute fitness problem.
“Kepa is a last-minute absentee due to physical problems for tonight’s Champions League matchday 4 clash between Real Madrid and Braga,” the statement from Real Madrid read.
With Thibaut Courtois already injured, Real Madrid had brought in Kepa late in the summer transfer window as a replacement for the Belgian.
The Spaniard has been a permanent fixture in the starting XI for the Merengues and was named in the lineup to face Braga. Now, though, the on-loan Chelsea ace has also fallen victim to an injury.
Providing an update on the situation, journalist Jose Luis Sanchez reported that Kepa was injured during the warm-up before the SC Braga clash.
The Spanish international has muscle discomfort in his right leg, forcing Carlo Ancelotti to replace him with Andriy Lunin in the starting XI.
The extent and severity of Kepa’s injury will likely emerge tomorrow when the club’s medical staff is able to conduct more tests.
Real Madrid youngster in line for significant minutes against Granada – report
Nico Paz was long hyped as Real Madrid Castilla’s brightest upcoming star. The media constantly kept the spotlight on the young Argentine through pre-season as he made a strong impression under Carlo Ancelotti in preseason.
His breakthrough eventually arrived, courtesy of Real Madrid’s injury crisis. He has now made two appearances for the team in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and even recorded his first goal for the club earlier this week against Napoli.
Taking his chances
As revealed by AS (h/t The Madrid Zone), Paz has impressed management with his cameo against Napoli and will be called up for Real Madrid’s clash against Granada tomorrow.
In fact, there is a good chance he sees significant game time on the night.
After all, Ancelotti is without the likes of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in the middle of the park.
With Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, and Jude Bellingham filling the starting spots, Paz serves as the manager’s first-choice backup off the bench.
Paz voices his elation
Paz’s introduction against Napoli changed the texture of the game, and it was only poetic that he got the goal that put Real Madrid ahead again on the night.
Speaking to the media after his special night, the Castilla star did not hold back on his emotions.
“This is a dream. For a moment I didn’t even believe it. Very happy to be able to help the team. I dared. I was in automatic mode, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I hit it and well.”
“This is also a message for the other youth players: it is possible to get there. Ancelotti congratulated me, and the whole staff. They are an incredible group and I want to thank them all,” he added, urging his Castilla teammates to keep pushing.