Alonso injury gives Real midfield issue
Carlo Ancelotti is set to use Thursday’s night’s Trofeo Bernabeu exhibition match, which is billed as an homage to returning former Real Madrid hero Raul, to assess his midfield options amid concerns about cover in the area after Xabi Alonso’s latest injury setback.
• Train: Who can fill Alonso's boots now?
Alonso is expected to miss two to three months after breaking the fifth metatarsal in his left foot at Madrid’s Valdebebas training facility on Wednesday. The Spain international had been expected to return in the friendly against Qatari club Al-Sadd, which would have been his first appearance since undergoing a groin operation in early June.
Ancelotti had said after Sunday’s 2-1 win over Real Betis that his team had lacked “balance” in the centre of the park, and the Italian had been hoping that Alonso's return would help shore up an area where he has lots of clever creators but fewer experienced ball-winners.
Sami Khedira picked up a knock to his left knee during the Betis game, which has ruled him out of Thursday’s match, but the Germany international should return for Monday evening’s Primera Division trip to Granada.
Asier Illarramendi -- a €38 million summer signing from Real Sociedad -- was feted as Alonso’s long-term replacement in the Madrid engine room on his arrival in June, but the former Real Sociedad midfielder picked up an muscle injury almost immediately. Illaramendi’s recovery has been slower than first expected, and his continued absence from full training has reportedly concerned both the club and the player himself.
In the meantime, Brazilian youngster Casemiro -- a €6 million summer signing from Sao Paolo -- will get a chance to build on the favourable impression he made during Madrid’s pre-season games during Thursday’s sell-out exhibition at the Bernabeu. Alvaro Arbeloa, Kaka, Di Maria, Nacho Fernandez, Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez should also feature in the game in which Raul is set to play 45 minutes for each side.
The 18-year-old youth-teamer Jose Rodriguez, who made his debut under Jose Mourinho during the 2012-13 season, has also been training with the senior squad this week as Ancelotti looks to ensure he can cover any new midfield issues.