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Rediff.com  » Sports » Soccer briefs: Real's Modric, Marcelo risk missing PSG visit through injury

Soccer briefs: Real's Modric, Marcelo risk missing PSG visit through injury

Last updated on: February 20, 2018 20:00 IST

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Luka Mordic

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Marcelo, left, and Luka Modric attend a news conference at the Valdebebas training grounds, outside Madrid. Photograph: Javier Barbanch/Reuters.

Real Madrid could be without left back Marcelo and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric for their Champions League last-16 second leg at Paris St Germain in two weeks' time after the pair were diagnosed with hamstring injuries.

 

Marcelo was one of Real's best performers in the 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu last week and scored the final goal of the game to give them a two-goal cushion in the tie.

He was forced off, however, during his side's 5-3 win at Real Betis on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

Real released a statement on Tuesday confirming the player had injured his right hamstring and said Modric, who played against PSG but was an unused substitute against Betis, had the same injury.

As is customary at Real, the club did not reveal how long either player would be out of action although Spanish newspaper Marca said there was a possibility both players could return in time for the second leg at the Parc des Princes on March 6.

Real coach Zidane told a news conference ahead of his side's Liga game against Leganes on Wednesday that he was optimistic about Modric.

"He has sustained a hamstring problem which is why he didn't train and he is focusing on recovering as quickly as possible," Zidane said.

"I think it's a small problem and as always I have every faith in everyone that works here, the doctors and physios, that they will ensure he returns quickly."

Modric and Marcelo have been ruled out of Wednesday's game away to Leganes along with German midfielder Toni Kroos, who is nursing a knee injury sustained after the first leg against PSG.

Real are fourth in the Liga standings on 45 points, 17 behind leaders Barcelona, but victory over Leganes would lift them above Valencia and into third place.

Leganes, who are 13th, are in their second season in Spain's top flight and knocked Real out of the King's Cup in the quarter-finals last month, before eventually losing to Sevilla in the semis.

Chelsea's Conte has sleepless nights before Barca clash

Antonio Conte

IMAGE: Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reacts during a match. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said the prospect of facing Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 has given him sleepless nights as he prepares for Tuesday's clash.

The Italian's side warmed up for the first leg tie by thrashing struggling second-tier Hull City 4-0 in the FA Cup fifth round on Friday but his mind quickly turned to Barca.

"After the FA Cup game, it was a bit difficult to sleep well, because when you have to play this type of game, you have to prepare everything: the big things, and the details," said Conte, who has been under mounting pressure this season.

"We have an idea; we have a plan in our heads. In this specific moment for us it's very important to pick the players that are in the best form, and then try to do our best during the game, "he told a news conference on Monday.

Chelsea last defeated the Catalan side in 2012 on the way to their only Champions League title but Conte admits they are the underdogs going into Tuesday's mouthwatering match.

"We are talking about a massive game, and a big challenge for us," said Conte who delivered the Premier League title last term but whose fourth-placed side have struggled to reach such high standards during his second season in charge.

"We have to play against a fantastic team, one of the best in the world," he added. "We must be excited to play this type of game. It won't be easy. We must pay great attention, but at the same time we must have ambition to try to play our football.

"We have worked and prepared well for this game. We start as underdogs, for sure. For this reason, we must be excited to have this challenge."

The Italian warned that his players must be prepared to suffer to get past a Barcelona side who are runaway leaders in La Liga and are also through to the Spanish Cup final.

"We know the characteristics of Barcelona very well," added Conte.

"They like to have possession of the ball; they like to dominate. In every game they are able to create many chances.

"For this reason, we must be prepared to suffer without the ball, to be compact, to not lose our head during the game, and then to try with the ball what we know, and what we try doing in training."

Mourinho sweating over United injury woes 

Jose Mourinho

IMAGE: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is hopeful that some of his key players will recover in time for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 first leg tie at Sevilla.

United beat Huddersfield Town to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday with Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic out injured and Paul Pogba ill.

Mourinho said goalkeeper David de Gea was the only player rested for the fifth round tie at the weekend and he was forced to add youngsters Ethan Hamilton and Angel Gomes to make up the numbers on the bench in the 2-0 win at the John Smith's Stadium.

"I didn't rest one single player, so we had every player available here (against Huddersfield)," the Portuguese manager told reporters after the match.

"I brought two kids (Hamilton and Gomes) that played 90 minutes yesterday (on Friday for the Under-23s) because I don't have another player.

"Can we recover some of them for Wednesday? I believe so. "Rashford, Herrera, Valencia, I think they have a chance. Paul (Pogba), I don't know."

Mourinho said Jones and Rojo were unlikely to be fit, leaving Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly, who returned at Huddersfield after 3-1/2 months out with an ankle problem, as his only fit centre backs.

"Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Marouane, Zlatan - I don't think they have any chance, so we arrive at this crucial moment with some problems," Mourinho added.

"I think mentality is very important. And we have a strong team, strong bonding, strong team mentality. We know it is a very difficult match - but we go for it."

United have a Premier League clash with champions Chelsea at Old Trafford four days after their European assignment in Spain.

Victory for Antonio Conte's Chelsea side would move them level on points with second-placed United with 10 matches left.

Drogba's teenage son signs for Guingamp

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba's 17-year-old son Isaac has joined Ligue 1 side Guingamp as part of their under-19 academy, the French team said on Monday.

The teenager follows in his father's footsteps with Drogba making 50 appearances at Guingamp before his move to Marseilles and then Chelsea, where he scored 164 goals in 381 appearances for the Premier League club.

"Couldn't be more proud of you Isaac Drogba," the 39-year-old said on his verified Instagram account.

Didier Drogba won four league and FA Cup titles, one Champions League trophy and several individual honours during his nine seasons at Chelsea.

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