Friday, 12 January 2007

Bravo gets a reprieve

Roberto Carlos feels his injured right calf muscleTo add to his current player management woes, Fabio Capello now has had his two left backs injured in the same week. First of all, Marcelo, fresh from his less than auspicious debut on Sunday at Riazor, injured his right ankle in training on Wednesday and is expected to be off for around six weeks.

Then, Roberto Carlos, who's only missed 10 games in as many seasons through injury, felt something give in his right calf in last night's Copa del Rey yawnathon against Betis and could be out for up to 4 weeks if the suspected muscle tear is confirmed.

All this means is that Raúl Bravo, who's been out of favour with Capello in recent weeks and was looking forward to another season on the sidelines, had to step into the breach. To be fair to him, though left-footed and generally a fairly solid defender, he's not really a specialist at left back and has mostly been used as a utility player, also filling in as a central defender where necessary.

Real did manage to keep a clean sheet against a Betis side missing a few of their regulars with a totally Spanish back four, with youth player Torres (no, not that one) joining Bravo, Sergio Ramos and Helguera. Dissenter Diarra made a come-back to a midfield where Gago bucked the trend at Real Madrid by constantly asking for the ball, rather than getting rid of it. Higuaín made his debut and showed some spark, which may see him get some more play in the league, but, with Capello, nobody really knows.

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