Celta Vigo vs. Real Madrid: Who must step up with Sergio Ramos out?

Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will travel to the Balaidos to face Celta Vigo on La Liga’s Matchday 28, having beaten their opponents 2-0 earlier this season. They are coming off a 3-1 win over Atalanta, but they had some issues in their last three league battles. So they will need to be on alert against 10th-placed Celta, who have dangerous players despite their recent struggles.

Captain Sergio Ramos returned last weekend to start against Elche and was tremendous in his Champions League return on Tuesday vs. Atalanta. But unfortunately, he will not be available on Saturday in Vigo.

According to a report from MARCA, Ramos, thankfully, hasn’t suffered another serious injury. Instead, Real Madrid are holding him out of this La Liga fixture as a precaution after he picked up a knock to his tibia against Atalanta, which explains why he was subbed early.

So who must step up? Well, it depends on which formation we see from Los Blancos. Zinedine Zidane used a back three in back-to-back matches against Elche and Atalanta, and he’s used that defensive setup three times this season.

Nacho is a big reason why Real Madrid are fine without Sergio Ramos

He could conceivably go that route again this weekend, even without Ramos. Marcelo appears to be returning to health, and Zidane used Ferland Mendy as a left-sided center back last month against Getafe. Mendy, Raphael Varane, and Nacho Fernandez could start in the back three. Eder Militao is another option, as he could use the minutes.

Ramos usually plays on the left side, though we have seen Nacho start on the left in a back three before. We could see Nacho on the left, Varane in the middle, and Militao on the right. Or Mendy could play on the left with Varane in the middle and Nacho on the right. That’s the exact back three Zidane used against Getafe, who were completely nullified by an elite defensive performance from all three players.

It’s incredible to think that Real Madrid are in a strong position right now even without Ramos, and that shows you how much the defensive depth has been boosted by Nacho’s rise at the center back position this season. Nacho is playing the football of his life right now, and you wouldn’t put it past him to have a great game on Saturday, even against Iago Aspas.

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Celta Vigo’s attacking trio of Nolito, Iago Aspas, and Santi Mina is talented and the real strength of the team. Ramos will be missed, but if Varane and Nacho can keep playing like they have since the start of 2021, Real Madrid should be able to score a second victory over Vigo this season.