A rash of injuries during international play has left Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho seeking options in his back line.
Real’s next La Liga match is Saturday against Celta Vigo and they continue the first phase of Champions League on Oct. 24 against Borussia Dortmund, but they will miss several key players during that stretch.
Full-back Alvaro Arbeloa suffered a hamstring strain during Spain’s World Cup qualifier against France Tuesday and could be out upwards of three weeks.
That comes on the heels of defender Marcelo requiring surgery on a broken bone in his foot sustained while training with Brazil Sunday. The 23-year-old is not expected to return for the rest of the year.
Los Blancos fullback Fabio Coentrao could also be sidelined for a month with a groin injury during Portugal’s loss to Russia on Friday.
The offense hasn’t avoided this epidemic either, with striker Karim Benzema and forward Gonzalo Higuain banged up. Higuan was substituted in the second half of Argentina’s victory over Chile due to an ankle tweak, and Benzema also left during Spain's match with a similar injury. Both stars, however, are not expected to miss any time.
The injuries could not have come at a worse time as this is a critical juncture in the season for Los Blancos, who are now in fifth place in La Liga, eight points behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
As much of the back line dwindles, Mourinho could play his veterans more or turn to his bench, and may go with 19-year-old Raphael Varane and Spain’s Nacho.
Varane has made 10 appearances since joining from Lens in 2011, and has netted one goal in that time. The French native has also made 15 appearances with the French U21 team, and scored three goals, while Nacho has started two games this season with no goals.