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Injuries and Covid-19 limit Ancelotti's options ahead of Cadiz clash

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Madrid, Dec 18 (IANS) Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has a few selection problems ahead of his side’s home game against Cadiz on Sunday with an outbreak of COVID-19 in the squad coupled with injuries to some key players.

Six players tested positive for Covid-19 in the middle of the week: Luka Modric, Marcelo, Marco Asensio, Rodrygo, Gareth Bale, and Andriy Lunin. Fortunately, there were no further positive tests on Friday.

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Modric returned a negative PCR test on Friday, but it’s still not certain whether he will be able to play on Sunday, as he still needs to carry out further tests to confirm his availability.

In some ways Real Madrid have been fortunate that of the players affected by Covid, only Modric and Asensio were likely starters at the weekend, although Rodrygo was a possible substitute for Asensio.

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If Modric is ruled out, Fede Valverde or Eduardo Camavigna should be able to step into midfield, while Lucas Vazquez can cover for Asensio, reports Xinhua.

As well as the Covid cases, top scorer Karim Benzema and right-back Dani Carvajal are also doubts with muscle injuries, and that will allow Luka Jovic to lead the attack, with the adaptable Nacho Fernandez covering in defense.

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Real Madrid go into the game on the back of seven successive league wins, including last weekend’s home victory against Atletico Madrid, which was typical of many in the Bernabeu this season, with their rivals having more chances, but being denied by a combination of poor finishing and some inspired work from Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Cadiz haven’t won in four games and have shipped 12 goals in that time, slipping into the relegation zone and are likely to adopt an ultra-defensive strategy in an attempt to take at least a point.

Even without several key players, Real Madrid should be looking at an easy win before the end of the year away to Athletic Club Bilbao, whose two Spain internationals, Unai Simon and Inigo Martinez both returned positive Covid tests on Friday.

–IANS

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