Real Madrid have suffered a blow ahead of an intense run of fixtures, as captain Sergio Ramos limped out of Spain’s Nations League encounter with Germany.
Spain were leading 3-0 in the encounter when the centre-back played a long ball forward. Having done so, he immediately felt the back of his leg and went down injured. By that stage, Real Betis’ Sergio Canales had also been withdrawn because of a muscle problem.
Although he was able to walk off the field, suggesting it is not a particularly serious problem, Real Madrid will fret over his hamstring ahead of the weekend’s trip to Villarreal.
Indeed, it seems unlikely that the 34-year-old, whose future is unclear as he is out of contract at the end of the season, will be available to make the trip to face the second-placed side in LaLiga.
Arguably the greatest problem for Real Madrid, though, is that if their influential centre-back is out for any length of time, he faces missing several key matches in a season that is unprecedentedly busy.
They have Champions League games in three successive midweeks once club football returns, meaning their first five-day break between matches will arrive between a derby against Atletico Madrid and a trip to Eibar.
Real Madrid pre-Christmas schedule
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Before then, their league campaign will pit them against Alaves and Sevilla in addition to Villarreal.
While a significant hamstring injury could easily see Ramos miss all of these fixtures, Real Madrid will hope that the problem looks as slight as it appeared at first. It may be that he misses two or three weeks.
Ramos, who was making his 178th international appearance, has been a rock for the club over the last 15 years. He has played in excess of 650 fixtures for Zinedine Zidane’s side and has scored 100 goals for them.