The official statements released by Real Madrid on Friday about the injuries sustained by Dani Carvajal and Isco Alarcón in midweek have only confirmed what most of us expected. Neither are likely to play against Bayern (at least at this stage) and for sure neither will be involved against Leganés on Saturday.
It could well turn out to be a double blow for Zinedine Zidane if both players are ruled out after the weekend and Real Madrid will have to face Bayern Munich without them.
This will be softened only by the 2 -1 lead Real hold from the first leg; and the fact that Bayern too have their injury worries.
Both Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng are also rated doubtful for the return leg in Madrid; with muscular injuries again cited by the Bayern medical people as their cause for concern.
In the Real Madrid camp, though, Dani Carvajal has been diagnosed with a hamstring muscle strain; while Isco’s medical report gives a sprain of the acromio-clavicular joint of the left shoulder as the diagnosis.
Although both injuries are common enough occurrences, Dani’s injury is the more likely of the two to be unpredictable in it’s response to treatment.
Injuries to the biceps femoris muscle of the hamstring group are extremely common in football. But the big worry over any hamstring injury is whether the injury has healed enough to allow someone to return to play without running the risk of repeat or recurrent injury.
When Dani gets to the stage where he is able to start thinking about returning to the team this will be a decision that needs to be taken in conjunction with the medical team at Real Madrid; and no doubt it will be.
We often read about footballers declaring themselves fit ‘against medical advice’ only to quickly find that their return has been far too early in the healing process and the injured tissues are still not strong enough to withstand the rigours of the game.
When this happens, the overall length of time a player is out of the team increases considerably; and in many cases you are having to start the whole treatment and rehabilitation process all over again.
What may have started off as an estimated two to three week injury can soon turn into an eight or nine week job through not only aggravating the original injury but also by increasing the tissue damage at the site of the injury!
Zinedine Zidane will have been in similar situations when he was a player himself and he knows how they feel. He will be only too aware that Dani Carvajal will be bursting to get back into the team asap and he’ll have been weighing up all the possibilities since the other night when Dani came off injured.
The tests reported this morning will have only confirmed the medical team’s diagnosis as opposed to making it for them; but will have provided a clearer indication as to the extent of the tissue damage sustained.
That in itself can be a big help. If the medical people know the specifics of the injured area such as the length and the depth of the actual tear, then it’s going to be far easier to estimate how long the recovery period is likely to be.
Although having this information doesn’t guarantee that either Dani or Isco will make a ‘textbook recovery’, it certainly helps in terms of Zinedine Zidane being able to plan for their eventual return.
Isco’s injury is given as a sprain of the acromio-clavicular joint (ACJ) and this is the same injury that troubled Sergio Ramos a couple of seasons ago.
The ACJ is basically the joint that is formed by the end of the collar bone where it meets the upper part of the scapula – or shoulder blade – at a point known as the acromion process.
This is where the ligament that is injured in an ACJ sprain connects the clavicle to the acromion; and the injury is obvious as a result of the deformity that occurs if the acromio-clavicular ligaments are torn or stretched.
In these cases, the clavicle springs upwards, giving the initial appearance that the shoulder has ‘dropped’; when in reality the shoulder positioning is fine but it’s the collar bone that has slightly moved instead.
Injuries to the shoulder are not as common in outfield players as they are in goalkeepers. But there is evidence to suggest that when upper limb injuries do occur in outfield players as a result of a fall, they are less adept at dealing with these since their bodies are less proficient at landing on the arm than goalkeepers are (Volpi, 2006).
Once again it has been reported that the injured players’ progress will be monitored; and with the investigations taking place less than 48 hours after the injury this is a sensible statement to make.
In terms of Isco and Dani’s potential return, though, we’ll just have to wait and see. Often the most important period in the management of any injury is the first 48 – 72 hours when the focus is on reducing pain and restricting the potential for further aggravation of the injury.
Although everyone will be clamouring for the medical staff to ‘do something’, just allowing the acute phase to settle over the next day or two will be the best course of action.
But long before Bayern land in Madrid, there’s a game against Leganés to consider; and ‘Pepineros’ coach Asier Garritano will have prepared his team to face a strong Madrid side irrespective of who plays.
And after the way the Juventus game at the Bernabéu ended with that very late penalty winner from Cristiano, Zinedine Zidane certainly won’t allow any degree of complacency to manifest itself in the dressing room; either for the Bayern match or for tomorrow’s game against Leganés.
But come Saturday night, provided there are no further injuries to worry about, his thoughts will be firmly focussed on Bayern.
Volpi P (2006). Shoulder Injuries. in Football Traumatology; Currents Concepts from Prevention to Treatment. Milan, Springer.