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Real Madrid’s Vazquez And Kovacic Both Pick Up Injuries

Real Madrid say forward Lucas Vazquez and midfielder Mateo Kovacic will be sidelined for an undetermined period because of injuries picked up in Japan during the Club World Cup.

Madrid issued the medical reports on Thursday, 11 days after the team defeated Japanese side Kashima Antlers 4-2 in extra time in the tournament final.

Vazquez, who played 81 minutes of the final, has a muscle injury in his right leg while Kovacic twisted a ligament in his left ankle while playing as a substitute in the closing minutes.

With the injury to Gareth Bale plus Vazquéz injury, Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has suddenly found himself with a dearth of natural wide men.

With the centre of the park more-or-less nailed on (when fit) by the midfield trio of Modric, Casemiro and Kroos, the vacant starting space usually occupied Bale and then Vazquéz before the Spaniard suffered a tear to his calf, will now be fought out by three players: Isco, James and Asensio.

Although the player most accustomed to playing out wide this season has been Marco Asensio, that has always been out on the left rather than the right side of the pitch, and besides, the 20-year old looks to be bottom of the attacking midfield pecking order.

Between James and Isco, the latter has been Zidane’s preferred option of the two, however like Asensio neither usually appears on the right, leading to the suggestion that the coach might be forced to swap from his preferred 4-3-3 formation to a 4-3-1-2.

Such a switch would suit Isco or James, allowing either one to slot in behind the two strikers: a role which both players feel most comfortable with. Isco in particular gave an exhibition in the Madrid derby when he took up that position, and also played there in the draw at Camp Nou. The Malagan, it seems, would have the advantage over the others in that respect.

Madrid’s next match is at home to Sevilla in the first leg of their Copa del Rey round-of-16 tie on Jan. 4.