Real Madrid’s interim coach Santiago Solari decided not to include anyone returning from injury for the Champions League match against Viktoria Plzeň in midweek; thus dispelling rumours about the potential return to the side of Marcelo, Rafaël Varane and Dani Carvajal.
So with the trip to Celta de Vigo as the only remaining fixture after the game in Plzeň before the next international ‘break’, at least Solari is thinking in the longer term as opposed to the short; even if (as expected) a change of management is indeed likely.
With Mariano and Jesús Vallejo also reported to be making some progress, Solari should have some more options for the league fixture in Galicia on Sunday.
It would have been tempting for him to include some of those who returned to active training on Monday in the squad for the Champions League game but that would have been tempting fate.
Even if they didn’t start against Viktoria Plzeň then the urge to bring one or two back into the fold even from the bench could have backfired massively if anyone had made an appearance and then been forced to come off.
Whether the coach decides to stick with the same squad for Sunday will be a decision taken after Friday; but the chances are that if Marcelo, Rafaël Varane and Dani Carvajal are in line for a return in Vigo then they’ll train fully with the squad once everyone returns from the Czech Republic.
It’s interesting but not surprising that all the injuries of late have been muscular in nature. From calf muscles to hamstrings, thighs and adductors, the medical and fitness people have had a lot to contend with.
This has been a constant issue at the club for as long as anyone can remember but the injuries themselves aren’t exclusive to Real Madrid; similar injuries are available at other clubs as well!
The difficulty is that we’re now coming into that part of the season where statistics have shown that players at Real Madrid’s level are more susceptible to injuries due to the increased number of competitive matches when you add the Champions League and the Copa del Rey to the league campaign.
It’s something that was highlighted a couple of seasons ago when Rafa Benítez was in charge of Real Madrid.
The fitness team that accompanied Rafa had performed previous studies whilst working at other clubs and they found that the injuries were more prevalent at this time of year with October and November featuring highly in most injury counts.
They put this down to the frequency of matches with many games coming in quick succession involving domestic league and cup matches added to the European competitions; and from that perspective nothing has really changed.
At Real’s level, international weeks merely compound the problem and you then have players with additional match commitments on top of an already-hectic schedule and it’s hardly surprising that people will pick up injuries.
When you have players either returning from injury, such as Real have at the moment with the five players who have been absent for some time, then the risks for recurrences of injuries are increased through simply training and playing.
We could also add some more players to this discussion who either have been or are likely to go away again on international duty in the near future which will once again put fitness levels under stress.
The end result is that Real’s incoming new coach - whoever that may be - might inherit a squad missing several key faces in much the same way as his predecessors Julen Lopetegui and now Santiago Solari have had to endure.
It’s a situation that certainly isn’t peculiar to Real Madrid this season. Previous coaches going back several years have all been in the same boat where injuries are concerned. Each has attempted to address the issue in their own way in addition to seeking the input of the medical and fitness staff.
But as we said, this is not something that is exclusive to Real Madrid. Although when you are missing players of the calibre of Dani Carvajal, Rafaël Varane et al., with important fixtures coming up it’s easy to forget that the same thing happens at every other club throughout the land.
Maybe the other clubs don’t have the spotlight trained on them at the same intensity though. Whilst recurrences are common in muscle injuries, often it’s all about the actual timing of the injured players’ return to the team and whether they’re really ready to come back or not.
It’s good to know that Santiago Solari isn’t just throwing everybody into the mix for the sake of making a quick impression.