Pepe, Ronaldo injury concerns for Real
Real Madrid defender Pepe has a calf muscle injury and is now a doubt for the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon on May 24, a game for which teammate Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly concerned about not being 100 percent right.
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Madrid finished Wednesday's 1-1 La Liga draw at Valladolid with injury concerns over Ronaldo, Pepe, Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal, Angel Di Maria, Sami Khedira and Alvaro Arbeloa.
That result all but ended Madrid's chances of pipping both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona to the domestic title, meaning Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti's main concern now is the fitness issues of varying seriousness currently hampering so many members of his squad.
Pepe's condition looks the most serious, with the club releasing a statement on Friday morning saying that tests on the Portugal international, who finished the 90 minutes at Valladolid despite being in obvious discomfort during the closing stages, had a calf muscle problem.
"After tests done today on our player Pepe, a grade 1 muscle injury was diagnosed in the calf muscle of his left leg," the statement said. "The [return date] depends on the evolution of the injury."
Ronaldo is reportedly keen not to take any risks with his troublesome hamstring ahead of the Champions League decider in Lisbon. Bale, Di Maria and Carvajal are all expected to be in the squad for Sunday's La Liga trip to Celta Vigo, a game in which long-time absentees Khedira and Arbeloa may get some minutes to prove their fitness.
France international Raphael Varane is the likely replacement during Pepe's absence, however the 21-year-old was unavailable for the game at Valladolid, after he reportedly suffered swelling to his right knee after playing the 90 minutes in Sunday's 2-2 draw at home to Valencia.
Varane has only featured rarely this year, and has yet to really recover 100 percent from the serious knee injury he suffered almost a year ago in a La Liga game at Espanyol.
The former Lens player, who is expected to be named in the France squad for the upcoming World Cup, told Le Figaro that speculation that his treatment and recovery had not been handled properly was false.
"Many things have been said about my knee, people have joked that they operated on the wrong knee," Varane said. "But the situation is clear: I was in good hands, those of Dr. Herve Silbert. I am still in contact with him, he did great work. The joint is fine. I do not have any doubts about my right knee."