Since the first leg at the Etihad Stadium last week, much of the talk ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League semifinal between Real Madrid and Man City has focused on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo missed the first leg with an injury, but by all accounts he’ll be fit and in the starting XI at the Santiago Bernabeu.
While Cristiano is on the comeback trail, Los Blancos have today been hit with a major double whammy as two stars have been ruled out of the tie.
Casemiro and Karim Benzema are out of contention, as both men have been left off Zinedine Zidane’s 21-man squad to face Man City.
Benzema has not recovered sufficiently from a thigh injury affecting his right leg while Casemiro has been unable to shake off a hip issue he picked up in the win over Real Sociedad.
At the start of the season nobody would have predicted that on the eve of their biggest match of the season that it is Casemiro’s absence and not Benzema’s that worries Madrid fans the most.
Casemiro has been excellent in a defensive midfield role for Real recently and the Whites defensively do not look as strong when he is not in the lineup.
Real Madrid squad to face Manchester City:
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Casilla and Yáñez.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Carvajal, Arbeloa and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Bale, Kovacic, Modric and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vázquez, Jesé and Mayoral.