Injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to take their toll in the Liga title race, with all three teams involved – leaders Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona — missing a number of key players this weekend. A depleted Real could be without nine first team regulars as they look to keep their slim hopes of retaining the title alive when they host Valencia on Sunday.
Full-back Marcelo is the latest to join a lengthening injury list, which includes captain Sergio Ramos and Eden Hazard, after picking up a calf problem in midweek.
Second-placed Real sit five points behind Atletico having played two games more.
Atletico will have a chance to maintain their advantage at the top when they travel to Granada on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s side have been hit hard by several positive COVID-19 cases, with Thomas Lemar, Hector Herrera, Joao Felix, Moussa Dembele and Mario Hermoso all isolating.
The Argentine continues to remain philosophical when speaking of the problem the pandemic means for his side.
“It’s tough times for society, for the world, it’s really difficult. The disease is spreading all over, and that’s not good, and right now it’s affecting us,” he said.
“We need to take that on the chin. We’re ready for when it happens to us because we have a squad of players who can fill in and take advantage of the minutes this affords them.”
Barcelona, meanwhile, have eight players out for Saturday’s visit of Alaves. The Catalans are third in the table, eight points off the pace having played a game more than Atleti.
It is a deficit which led manager Ronald Koeman to concede in recent weeks that the Copa del Rey was their best chance of silverware this season. However, they trail 2-0 to Sevilla after losing the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.