Real Madrid trained in the snow in Friday’s build-up to the Osasuna game this weekend and for once there were few absences in Zinedine Zidane’s squad.
Dani Carvajal trained separately once again and so too did Rodrygo. Both players are carrying injuries and on this occasion, kept themselves to themselves while working away at their fitness.
We’ve come to expect more than a couple of absences in recent weeks so it’s been heartening to see the injury list gradually reducing, albeit not to the point where it doesn’t exist though.
Football has a habit of kicking you in the teeth as soon as you start to become complacent about anything at all, and boasting about having an injury-free squad is usually asking for trouble!
If we go back a few weeks, we had the situation where Real were technically injury-free on the Thursday night and then were minus three players twenty-four hours later.
Of course, on that occasion all the injuries were minor. Isco took a knock to his ankle in training, Vinicius rang in with gastroenteritis, and Zidane decided not to risk the recovering Eden Hazard against Eibar on the Sunday.
That said, it’s a little bit different this time. Rodrygo had to be substituted against Granada in the last match before Christmas with a hamstring injury, but instead of being out for a couple of weeks, it looks as if he will be out of action for a considerable length of time.
Real Madrid’s medical team were quick to confirm that Rodrigo’s injury was to the biceps femoris muscle of his right thigh, which is one of the more frequently injured of the hamstring muscles.
There’s been plenty of stats quoted over the last year about how common these injuries are in football, both in this column and elsewhere, but the majority of the injuries referred to tend to involve the fleshy, muscular part of the hamstrings.
Rodrygo’s injury is reported to be in the tendinous part of the muscle, which generally indicates a longer recovery time due mainly to the differences in structure between muscles and tendons relative to the blood supply which drives the healing process.
The larger, bulky part of the hamstrings contain lots of muscle fibres and these respond quicker to treatment due to the increased availability of oxygen in the blood. Tendons, which have a relatively poorer blood supply by comparison, generally take longer to heal.
The function of a tendon is to join the muscle to the bone but the area where the muscle becomes tendinous, known as the musculotendinous junction, is also the weakest part of a muscle and highly susceptible to injury.
It may be that Rodrygo will take a little bit longer than expected to make his return to the squad, depending on the actual severity and nature of his injury.
Dani Carvajal is, as we know, suspended and therefore unable to be considered for the Osasuna game, but he also picked up a minor injury last week against Celta Vigo in addition to the yellow card that excludes him from making the trip to Pamplona.
Minor injuries can be tricky though and without knowing the exact extent of Dani’s injury it’s impossible to comment on his progress at this stage, but for obvious reasons it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to push him to make an early return given the intense fixture list for the remainder of January.
Both teams put in their final training sessions today and the weather is likely to turn colder over the weekend with temperatures set to drop. The evening kick-off will only add to the risk of conditions deteriorating as the starting time approaches.
Snow isn’t as much of a problem nowadays as it used to be, at least not at elite level anyway. Matches tend to be postponed with the safety of spectators in mind rather than for any other reason. Hard, icy pitches present their problems though and sometimes a top-covering of light snow can actually be helpful.
The problem is often that the conditions underfoot can vary from one side of the field to the other, and if there is an area of the pitch that is constantly in the shade and never gets direct sunlight because of the stands, then that in itself can be an injury risk.
The priority for Real in Pamplona, apart from the obvious emphasis on taking another three points, of course, will be to come back to Madrid afterwards without any further injuries.