Real Madrid set to miss an important starter vs. Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey quarterfinals

Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid has been dealt with a major injury blow before the Copa del Rey quarter-finals against Athletic Bilbao this week, as one of their important starters, Ferland Mendy has been injured.

According to Jose Luis Sanchez from El Chiringuito, the Frenchman has suffered a muscle injury, and he will be definitely out for Thursday’s clash against the Basque club at San Mames. Sanchez has also mentioned that Mendy will aim to be ready for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 games against Paris Saint-Germain on 15th February, which implies that he might possibly miss the two LaLiga encounters against Granada and Villarreal as well.

This is the Frenchman’s second injury this season, as he had to miss the first one and a half months of the season due to a muscle injury that he picked up just before the start of the season. He couldn’t participate in the pre-season as well, due to an extended recovery from the tibia fissure he had suffered in May 2021.

Mendy has been a very important player for Real Madrid, ever since his transfer to the Spanish Capital from Lyon in the summer of 2019. He is going to miss a very crucial game for the club, and it is to be seen who plays in the spot of Real Madrid’s No. 23.

Who will be Ferland Mendy’s replacement for the Copa del Rey quarter-final?

Ferland Mendy’s main backup has been the club captain, Marcelo, for the last three seasons. But the Brazilian was shown a red card in the Round of 16 fixture against Elche, and RFEF made a ridiculous decision of suspending Marcelo for three games, which means that Marcelo will be unavailable for the Bilbao clash as well as the two legs of a probable semi-final.

This diverts our attention towards Miguel Gutierrez, the Real Madrid Castilla sensation, who has already started a couple of games this season, as the team’s main left-back. But there is no real clarity on his availability, as he wasn’t there in Real Madrid Castilla’s squad that faced Barcelona B in a 2-2 draw last Saturday. And even if he’s available, there might not be a great chance of Miguel being given a start, because Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t take a lot of risks in big games, in terms of team selection.

The only remaining options are Nacho and David Alaba. The Austrian had started the club’s first two LaLiga games against Alaves and Levante as the left-back, providing an assist and two pre-assists in those two games.

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But after that, Ancelotti preferred not to break the centre-back duo of David Alaba and Eder Militao and decided to use Nacho as the full-back, as he deployed the same in the Champions League group stage game against Inter Milan at the San Siro in September. It will be interesting to see who starts in Mendy’s position against Bilbao in an all-important clash,