After a relatively injury-free time in the USA so far, reality is starting to bite a little for Zinedine Zidane and his Real Madrid squad as the American tour comes to an end.
Having managed to miss out on anything other than the occasional minor niggle, a couple of the players are finding that pre-season touring and training invariably equates to injuries; even they do turn out to be relatively mild.
Real have done exceptionally well in taking things to this stage without anyone picking any injuries of a more serious nature; with Gareth Bale’s ankle sprain probably the most significant injury yet.
Having missed the greater part of the closing stages of last season, Gareth will understandably have been worried at the time and would likely have been thinking along the lines of “here we go again!”
To the majority of Real Madrid fans, the immediate reaction will have been one of Gareth missing out on even more game time as a result.
That doesn’t look like being the case (we hope) but the injury will likely spark off the usual debates about his future.
Despite Gareth himself publically declaring his commitment to Madrid, the media still won’t give up on the rumours that he’s off to Manchester United at some stage in the next few months.
Perhaps when Real Madrid featuring Gareth Bale face Manchester United on the 8th August in Skopje for the UEFA Super Cup they’ll finally accept the situation as it is!
Once back in Spain, the pre-season preparations will almost certainly increase in intensity. The training sessions are likely to continue over the next fortnight or so with the emphasis on physical conditioning until Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Pintus are finally happy with the fitness levels.
From a players’ point of view though it can often seem that the coaches are never happy; and from a coaches viewpoint it can often seem that the players are never fit enough!
Since Zinedine Zidane took over at the Bernabéu the whole approach to the fitness aspect at the club has totally changed. Although the levels that Real Madrid players now work to in training cannot be guaranteed not to increase the risk of injury simply because of the intensity and nature of these, there are some things which are unavoidable and an ankle sprain is a typical example.
There’s not a lot that can be done if the ground is a bit bumpy or you roll the ankle by putting your foot in a divot, so it’s how the injury responds in the immediate period thereafter that counts.
It’s been reported that Gareth left the training session purely as a precaution; so at this stage the concerns are minimal and its already been stated that he should be able to take part in the final game against the MLS All-Stars.
That’s got to be good news. Although other Real players have picked up minor injuries on the tour including Dani Ceballos (knee) and Toni Kroos (ankle), most of these have settled fairly quickly; including Nacho and Dani Carvajal who were involved in a collision with each other in training.
All seems to be well with both; at least until advised otherwise, and no doubt there will be some late decisions taken regarding their fitness before the MLS game.
If there are any obvious concerns, Zinedine Zidane will be unlikely to take any chances before everyone returns to Spain in readiness for the next stage of pre-season.