Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Getafe on Thursday night came at a cost, as they lost two key defensive pillars for their crucial clash with Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Aurelien Tchouameni, who had a great game on Thursday night in midfield before moving to center-back in the second half for a complete performance, picked up a controversial yellow card in the last minute of the game, which ruled him out of the derby due to accumulation of bookings. Antonio Rudiger, one of the best center-backs in the world this season, also had to be substituted at half-time after suffering a knock on his leg.
The absence of Tchouameni and Rudiger leaves Real Madrid with a serious shortage of options in the center of the defense, as they prepare to face the only team to have beaten them this season — Atletico Madrid. Nacho Fernandez is the only fit and available center back in the squad, as Eder Militao and David Alaba are both sidelined with long-term injuries. The situation is so dire that Carlo Anceloti may have to resort to using Ferland Mendy as a makeshift defender.
Real Madrid are not giving up on Tchouameni’s availability, though, as they will appeal his yellow card to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). The club believes that the referee, De Burgos Bengoetxea, made a mistake in booking the Frenchman. Real Madrid hope that the RFEF’s Competition Committee will overturn the decision and clear Tchouameni to play against Atletico.
Real Madrid are also hopeful that Rudiger’s injury isn’t serious enough to keep him out until Sunday.
“He has a knock and can recover,” Ancelotti said of Rudiger after the game. “Let’s see in the next few days. It’s a strong blow to the thigh, but he’s a warrior... and it’s complicated that he won’t make the game if he has only a little discomfort.”
Tchouameni and Rudiger have been invaluable to Real Madrid this season. Tchouameni wasn’t on the field from the start in either of the two losses against Atletico this season, and Rudiger has been a wall at the back. The best case scenario is that Tchouameni’s yellow gets over-turned and Rudiger recovers in time.
Real Madrid are currently first in La Liga, two points ahead of Girona and 10 points ahead of city rivals Atletico. The derby on Sunday at the Bernabeu could be decisive for the title race, as a win for the hosts would extend the the game between them and Atleti, while a victory for the visitors would swing momentum. Real Madrid will need to overcome their defensive crisis and put in a strong performance to stay as leaders.