Real Madrid in trouble as star defender faces suspension
The reckless challenge from the Madrid captain leaves the club with a stark lack of centre-backs for their upcoming games. Real Madrid’s statement win over Girona was, until the 93rd minute, a perfect execution of a football match.
Everything had gone well to see the side from the capital travel to top of the league and go 3-0 up in pulsating fashion right until Nacho lost his head and got a red card. His tackle on Portu was wildly late, and the ball was long out of reach for the defender, who made horrific contact with the forward’s right ankle, which was luckily not planted into the ground.
Ancelotti’s post match comments were as calm as usual and he had previously defined Nacho as a “pessimistic” defender, one who “always thinks something bad can happen and that is why he is concentrated for 90 minutes”, had a moment of madness.
“He wasn’t thinking clearly. We have apologised and we hope the Girona player is OK. Nacho knows he was wrong, he’s hurt and sad. But nobody should doubt that he’s a fair player, he always has been.” Nacho has just three red cards in 326 games for Real Madrid.
Referee Pulido Santana was not in a position to see the full extent of the horror tackle live and first gave the defender a yellow card that was upgraded to a red with VAR intervention.
What came next did not improve the already tense situation as Nacho walked off accompanied by Rüdiger, the Madrid captain responded to a comment from Girona’s Couto, prompting Stuani to go after Nacho, who received cover from his temporary bodyguard.
“He’s a great player”, said Girona forward Stuani, “but it was too much. I didn’t like it and I tried to defend my teammate”. The manager of the losing side, Míchel, took on board the apology from Real Madrid, saying “Ancelotti said sorry to us, he didn’t understand it either.”
The defender also posted on social media, saying that “I’d like to apologise to Portu for an involuntary action in the game. Today and during all of my career, I have never tried to hurt anyone. I hope you can recovery quickly and fully.”
If Alaba is not declared fit in time, Real Madrid (who played without Modric once again) will have just one fit centre-back when they play Osasuna next weekend (the game in the UEFA Champions League against Napoli is mid-week, but Nacho will not be suspended for the European fixture).
Despite knowing that Militão was set to be out for the rest of the season, Madrid did not move in the market, preferring to stick with what they had in the rest of the squad and youth team.
Alaba went off against Las Palmas and his problem does not appear to be serious, said Carlo, but his return for the Osasuna game at the Santiago Bernabéu a tricky tie at the best of times is not guaranteed.
Without Nacho, there is only Rüdiger who is available for Real Madrid and the search is on for someone to play alongside him. A nice gesture, but it does not stop the brewing headache for Ancelotti, who has a tough decision from a simple question.
For now, the options are Mendy, Tchouaméni from the first team, with Marvel and Carrillo leading the debate from the youth setup. However, the referee’s report after the game noted that the fouled player, Portu, had to go off injured.
Portu needed medical attention before being taken off the field. Normally, a straight red card for a challenge in which the player clearly tries to get the ball is a one match ban.
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That statement is a key point and where the question lies: if Nacho’s red card is deemed a violent challenge and that he did not intend to go for the ball, the punishment can lie anywhere from four to twelve games.
That sounds serious, but the usual thing for the Competition Committee, the body who will have the final say on the length of the ban, usually go for the lower end of the scale, meaning a four-game suspension would be the likeliest outcome should his red be upgraded.