Sergio Ramos to miss Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Champions League tie

Real Madrid will miss the services of captain Sergio Ramos, owing to a knee injury, when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sergio Ramos

Sergio Ramos is nursing a left knee injury and did not practice with the squad on Tuesday.   -  Reuters

Sergio Ramos is out of Real Madrid’s opening Champions League match against a Shakhtar Donetsk squad depleted by the coronavirus.

Ramos is nursing a left knee injury and did not practice with the squad on Tuesday. He took a knock on the knee on Saturday in the first half of the 1-0 home loss to Cadiz in the La Liga Spanish league and was substituted at halftime.

"We don’t want to take any risks,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Tuesday, a day before the team hosts Shakhtar. “He hasn’t been able to practice normally.”

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Three days after facing Shakhtar, Real Madrid has its biggest match of the season so far - the El Clasico against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday.

Ramos has been key for Madrid recently, in defense and in attack. He was among the team’s top scorers after the league resumed last season, helping to lead Madrid to its first Spanish league title in three years. The 34-year-old defender was suspended from the Champions League match against Manchester City last season, when Madrid was eliminated in the round of 16.

Zidane still won’t be able to count on Eden Hazard because of a lingering muscle injury. The forward has yet to make his season debut for Madrid.

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"His injury was worse than expected,” Zidane said. “We hope that he can come back soon and that he can play the whole season with us.”

Other players not included in Madrid’s squad for Wednesdays game because of injury included Dani Carvajal, Martin Odegaard and Alvaro Odriozola.

Shakhtar was in Spain without several players who were not fully fit after going into isolation because of positive COVID-19 test results. Coach Luis Castro said several players did not make the trip to Madrid.

"Of course (Ramos’ absence) can affect them, but we can’t really compare,” Castro told Marca. “We had some 10 players who may not even be able to play 20 minutes. We played our last match with seven under-20 players.”

This game will be at the 6,000-capacity Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium at Madrid’s training center as renovation work at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium remains ongoing. Also, fans are not allowed into matches because of the pandemic.

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Madrid, a 13-time Champions League winner, couldn’t get past the round of 16 in the last two seasons.

The other Group B teams are Inter Milan and Borussia Monchengladbach, who meet in Italy on Wednesday.

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