Last night, minutes before Real Madrid were scheduled to kick off against SC Braga, the club officially announced that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had to be withdrawn from the starting lineup due to a physical issue.
It emerged that the Chelsea loanee had suffered an injury during the warm-ups, which prompted Carlo Ancelotti to replace him with Andriy Lunin in the starting XI.
Kepa has a small abductor tear
Now, providing an update on Kepa’s condition, The Athletic’s Guillermo Rai is reporting that the Real Madrid goalkeeper has a small tear in his right abductor.
The Spanish international will undergo an MRI scan tomorrow, but all signs point towards him being sidelined for a period of two to three weeks.
As such, Kepa is now certain to miss Real Madrid’s upcoming La Liga game against Valencia this weekend.
Thankfully, though, Los Blancos will not play any games over the next couple of weeks as the final international break of 2023 will be upon us.
It should provide Kepa ample time to complete his recovery and make a return to the fold soon after the break is over.
Lunin proved his worth
With Kepa having been forced out at the last minute against Braga, Lunin proved his worth despite having to step in suddenly in a crucial encounter.
The Ukrainian international made a big stop to deny the Portuguese club from the penalty spot early in the game and pulled off another crucial save later on in the game to secure a clean sheet.
As such, even if Kepa is set to be sidelined, Ancelotti can count on Lunin for the time that the Spanish international will be unavailable.
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.