BEVERLY HILLS, April 06, (THEWILL) – Dependable French defender Raphael Varane of La Liga’s defending champions Real Madrid has been confirmed to be ruled out of Real’s first leg UEFA Champions League quarter-final against English Premier League defending champions Liverpool. This comes as Varane turned up a positive test result for COVID-19 in the prerequisite testing for footballers.
It is a tough blow for Los Blancos, who are already shorthanded in the defensive department with their influential centre back and captain Sergio Ramos already sidelined by injury sustained during the international break on duty for the Spanish national team.
To compound matters for Zinedine Zidane’s side, winger Dani Carvajal will also not feature, reducing the coach’s options to field Nacho Fernandez and one of Lucas Vazquez or Eder Militao to keep Liverpool at bay and hold the backline. Whatever the result is of the first leg, Zidane will be praying that these first squad members make it back to the lineup before they have to go to Anfield on April 14.
The match, which is being viewed as a vengeful mission for a Liverpool side believed to have been deprived of a chance at glory in the 2018 UCL final when Ramos controversially looked to have deliberately injured the troublemaking Liverpool forward, the Egyptian, Mohamed Salah.
With Liverpool coming to the game off of their 3-0 controlled victory over EPL hosts Arsenal at the Easter weekend on the back of a rejuvenated and hungry Portuguese striker Diogo Jota and the apparent improved play of their trio of forwards, Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, the absence of both Varane and Ramos, in particular, will come as a massive setback for the 13-times European champions.
However, as is usual of the gentlemanly mien of Red’s manager Jurgen Klopp, he dismissed any vengeful ideas for that 2018 final ahead of the team’s trip to the Estadio Alfredo di Stefano. He was however pleased to largely have the same squad available to him that took care of business against Arsenal on Saturday.
Although Klopp is still without midfielder Jordan Henderson and defenders Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are still some ways from returning to the full squad, the German turned his attention to the positive, glad that there were no new injury concerns to be disturbed about.
In his pre-match remarks, Klopp noted: “My motivation is at the highest level because it’s the Champions League. This has nothing to do with 2018 but when I got the draw – because it’s the first time we played Real Madrid since then – of course I remembered the game.
“I said after that game that if somebody asked me a week later or a month later if I would invite Sergio Ramos to my 60th birthday, then I would say no. I would think about it again.
“He’s a great footballer but I didn’t like what happened that night. It was a strange night for us but it’s long ago and I cannot get that feeling back, that anger or whatever, so I don’t even try.
“We are not on a revenge tour here. I don’t believe too much in revenge, but it would be nice to get through, because it would mean we are in the next round.”
The match kicks off at 8pm local time.