Real Madrid: 4 questions to answer before the Champions League knockout round

Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
5 of 5
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Can Real Madrid’s center back duo remain elite without Sergio Ramos?

Sergio Ramos will miss more weeks after requiring knee surgery, so Real Madrid must continue to turn to the center back duo of Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez.

The two experienced central defenders have served Thibaut Courtois well in recent games without the captain. Varane had a Herculean effort against Huesca the previous weekend, including two goals in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory, and he and Nacho were equally splendid in the clean sheet wins over Getafe and Valencia this past week.

It has been awesome to see Varane step up as a leader and prove to the world that he can play lockdown defense and stay composed without Ramos. He is a leader. Varane is world-class in his own right and is not reliant on Ramos, despite the issues against Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk.

As for Nacho, he has been a revelation this season. He’s had several classy showings at center back, even moving up forward to support the attack a la Ramos. On the ball, Nacho has been pretty much mistake-free, and he is a warrior in defense.

dark. Next. The 5 players Real Madrid should have never sold

Duvan Zapata is one of the best strikers in Europe, especially when it comes to his passing, vision, and hold-up play. He and his teammates at Atalanta will test this center back duo greatly on Wednesday next week. Can Varane and Nacho keep playing at this high level? I certainly think so, and Real will need them to.