Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane will miss Tuesday’s Champions League clash against Liverpool after testing positive for coronavirus.
With skipper Sergio Ramos ruled out through an injury picked up on international duty, the 27-year-old was set to play a key role in Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg in Spain.
But Varane, a World Cup winner with France in 2018, will be unavailable for Zinedine Zidane’s side after testing positive on the morning of the match.
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Real said in a statement on their official website: “Real Madrid informs that our player Raphael Varane tested positive in the Covid-19 test he underwent this morning.”
Varane had been rested for Saturday’s LaLiga match against Eibar with the Liverpool clash in mind, with the positive test leaving Nacho Fernandez and Eder Militao as the centre-back options for the first leg.
Real take on Barcelona in El Clasico on Saturday before next week’s second leg against Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday.
After a run of nine wins and two draws from their last 11 games, the groans that came with a poor start to the campaign – including a Champions League group stage in which they lost home and away to Shakhtar Donetsk – have faded away but Zidane said Real have not yet been given the credit they deserve.
“I believe so,” he said when asked if they had been undervalued. “In the end, we deserve trust. What is said, we can’t change all of that. What we can do is our jobs every day.
“But through history, this team turns around the things that have been said. We never give up on things, never. While there is a chance we always fight.
“We have had difficult moments, now we are in a good moment, though it doesn’t mean anything at the moment. We have to keep on fighting and compete.”
Zidane had hinted over the weekend that Eden Hazard might be ready to return in time for the match, having been out since March 13 with a hip injury, but the ex-Chelsea forward was not in the squad released by Madrid on Monday.
“The important thing for us is for him to be fully recovered,” Zidane said. “With the players, we never let them come back if the player is not ready. Of course we want him with the team. Now we will do things little by little and we will see when he is back.”