As both Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema continue treatment this week on their respective calf and hamstring muscle injuries, clearly neither looks like making a speedy return to the team.
Diagnosed as a muscular injury to the soleus in Sergio’s case and to the biceps femoris muscle in Karim’s, neither of the two injuries are particularly associated with making a speedy recovery.
Even though they’re not likely to be out of action in the longer term, there’s still enough concern being shown for both players to take their time and ensure their recovery is complete before they do attempt to come back.
Neither will feature against Villarreal although there will be ample scope for a return in the weeks to come.
Both are impatient; both have suffered recurrent injuries in the past, and neither are adverse to playing through the pain if that’s what it takes.
Plus both are the type of players who wear their hearts on their sleeves. What you see is usually what you get.
However, with the type of injuries Karim and Sergio are carrying, it just doesn’t make sense for either of them to attempt a comeback at the moment.
Both missed the gruelling New Year session on the steps of the Bernabéu; but that won’t necessarily have been a bad thing.
However, there’s every chance that Antonio Pintus will have them going up and down before they return to the team; if not as a fitness exercise then at least as a fitness test!
Karim has been doing some running anyway for the last few days, and appears to be well on track. Current reports indicate that he’s almost ready to become fully involved with the team once again.
He’s also been doing some ball work; and whilst the level and intensity of this can vary from a gentle tap-about to repetitive twisting and more challenging drills, if he’s training with ball then hopefully he’ll soon be ready to progress.
The problem is that these recurring injuries will certainly have affected his confidence at a time when not much has been going right for him.
This will be the second proper injury for Zidane’s main striker this season. It’s been well documented how he returned to the club with the injury after the recent break so we don’t need to go into that here.
The injury was reported to have been sustained in the Barça game; however, it’s less clear at what stage this actually happened and how it affected Karim at the time.
The most likely explanation would be that he initially felt some tension or stiffness in the back of the thigh and this later turned out to be a regular muscle injury as opposed to general muscular tension.
It’s a common-enough scenario and one that regularly occurs in football.
Karim has already had a previous injury to one of the other hamstrings in the same leg - the semimembranosis muscle - which in addition to a few niggles in pre-season meant that his overall fitness levels have been difficult to maintain for much of the current campaign.
It’s been one thing after another. And when you get a season like this it’s very hard to remain upbeat. Staying in the right frame of mind can be difficult when so much playing time is lost through injury.
We hear a lot about ‘positive mental attitude’ but it’s not so easy when everything is going against you, the crowd are on your back and the ball just won’t go into the net. Often the harder you try the worse it gets.
Karim Benzema isn’t one for hiding either. On the field he’s the type of player who will always accept a pass and sometimes even that can work against him.
At times like this it only takes one missed chance in front of goal or a ball inadvertently lost and the reaction of the crowd says it all.
Both Karim and Sergio Ramos will be keen to get back at the earliest opportunity but need to be fully fit and in the right frame mind to do so.
It’s a familiar pattern; but for Karim at least it’s particularly important that the timing is right on this occasion.
With such a busy period coming up - as if there are ever any periods that aren’t busy for Real Madrid - he needs to be at his fittest when he returns.
As we’ve said before, the last thing Karim Benzema needs is another injury on top of everything else.
The same applies to Sergio Ramos. He too will want to get back asap; but bearing in mind that his calf injury originated while in Abu Dhabi playing in the FIFA Club World Cup and that started as a niggle as well, he too needs to be careful.
We’re also reading that Zinedine Zidane appears to under a bit of pressure at the moment. With both Sergio and Karim totally committed to Zidane and his management style, they’re going to want to do their best for him by getting fit and back into the team.
They need to be careful though to time their return so that they can support Zidane in the best possible way - by helping to get the team winning and back on track once again.
The trouble is that it’s not something that can be rushed. As Fernando Hierro said earlier, everybody needs to remain calm at the moment and leave Zinedine Zidane to sort it out.