MADRID: Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists it is obvious rivals Barcelona will miss the injured Lionel Messi during a three-week layoff, but has injury concerns of his own ahead of Saturday’s trip to Las Palmas.
The five-time World Player of the Year is set to be sidelined for Barca’s trips to Sporting Gijon, Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League and Celta Vigo in the next week due to a groin strain.
“Messi is Messi. We all know what he can bring to this team,” Zidane said on Friday.
“Obviously, Barca are a different team when he is not there.”
However, Madrid have been struck by a double injury blow of their own with a huge Champions League clash at Borussia Dortmund to come on Tuesday.
Brazilian duo Marcelo and Casemiro will miss both trips to Las Palmas and Dortmund as well as Eibar’s visit to the Santiago Bernabeu next weekend.
Both are also expected to miss Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers against Bolivia and Venezuela early next month.
Marcelo limped off in the first-half of Real’s 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Wednesday and is expected to be out for at least two weeks.
“He has been diagnosed with a grade two muscle strain in the soleus muscle of his right calf,” Madrid said in a statement on Friday.
“It is always worrying when someone gets injured, even more so when they are first choice players,” Zidane said.
Midfielder Casemiro has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture of his left fibula picked up in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Espanyol which will rule him out for three weeks.
Casemiro has become a vital player in balancing Madrid’s midfield since Zidane took over as coach in January to balance the more attacking roles enjoyed by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos.
“There is no other player who plays like Case,” added Zidane. “Hopefully the injuries aren’t severe and they return as soon as possible. We have a big squad.”-AFP